97 of 127 parched Jharkhand blocks meet drought conditions: Govt report

As many as 97 rain-deficient blocks across 15 districts in Jharkhand fulfil all parameters that define drought, as per an assessment report prepared by the state Agriculture Department. The state is yet to take a call on declaring drought in the affected areas.

With IMD data for June 1-August 15 showing 18 districts as ‘rain deficient’ this kharif season, the department’s assessment report says paddy has only been sown on 5.4 lakh hectares till August 15 as compared to last season’s 16.3 lakh hectares (91% of the total area) for the same period. Overall, the report says, all five kharif crops — paddy, maize, pulses, oilseeds, and coarse cereals — cover (till August 15) only 10.51 lakh hectares against last year’s 23.4 lakh hectares for the same period.

Officials said the mean sown area in 127 of the 260 blocks in 24 districts was found to be less than 33.3 per cent.

Sources in the department said the steps involved in declaring drought as per the 2016 manual, involve establishing two triggers — rainfall deviation-dry spells; and vegetation cover-hydrology. Based on the department’s assessment of trigger one, 22 districts have received ‘deficient and scanty rainfall’.

“…Field inspection for assessment of drought…24 officers covered 127 blocks…it was found that 97 blocks in 15 districts were impacted by its vegetation cover and hydrology and also have crop sown area below 33.3 per cent,” the report says.

Under the contingency plan, the department is focusing on promotion of crop diversification to make for the production shortfall. The report said: “…promote late kharif crops such as kulthi, niger, urad, and madua. Focus on early rabi crops such as toria, rapeseed, mustard, gram, lentil, pea…forage crops like berseem and barley for increasing area coverage .” The report underlines requirement of Rs 36.89 crore to provide seeds of late kharif, early rabi and rabi crops at 50% subsidy, and Rs 55.33 crore for 75% subsidy.

The department has also registered 7.28 lakh farmers under its Jharkhand Fasal Rahat Yojna, which aims to provide relief to farmers in the event of crop loss due to “natural calamity”. Under the scheme, there is a provision of Rs 3,000/acre relief (maximum up to 5 acres) compensation in event of 30-50% crop loss; and Rs 4,000 per acre (maximum up to five acres) in case the crop loss was more than 50%, the department said.

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