Monsoon delay: MP can cope with drought till June 30

 16, 2016, 11.00 PM ISTBhopal: Even as more than 36 districts in Madhya Pradesh have been affected bysevere water crisis and drought, the government has refused to demand a special relief package from the Centre saying available funds can help the state cope with situation till June 30 even if there is delay in arrival of monsoon.

"We have sufficient state disaster relief fund (SDRF) and hence do not require any special package. Even monsoon, which was predicted to reach MP by June 20, is delayed by 10 days. But, we have a contingency plan to cope with the situation," state chief secretary Anthony DeSa told TOI.

After scanty rainfall in 2013 and 2014, Madhya Pradesh government decided not to exploit groundwater for irrigation purpose. It was used only for drinking purpose while efforts were made to use surface water for irrigation.

"This is the reason why MP is not facing a crisis like other states despite bad rains. It is because we followed central conservation measures to conserve water. PM Modi also appreciated MP for its policy decisions on irrigation and groundwater conservation," said DeSa.

"The Balram Talab Yojana was implemented across the state in which farmers get a reservoir constructed in their fields to enrich underground water table. Besides, one can build recharging structures with dug well under Kapildhara scheme. These were included under contingency plan and have paid off well," said the chief secretary, adding that cent per cent utilization of irrigation canals also reduced the crisis.

As per government calculation, in case monsoon delays till July 15, the government might call for Centre's assistance for immediate relief or a special package because the number of drought-affected villages would go up.

Recently, at a meeting called by prime minister Narendra Modi to assess water scarcity and drought, it was informed that MP has been sanctioned Rs1,875.80 crore under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), after adjustment of state balances. This is in addition to Rs657.75 crore released as central share of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for 2015-16 to the state. A further amount of Rs 345.37 crore has been released as first instalment of SDRF for 2016-17.

 It was also informed that state has given highest-ever relief assistance amounting to Rs4,664 crore to 61 lakh farmers. It was also claimed that due to preparatory steps taken over past 10 years, the state was relatively well placed to tackle drought.

The state has also geared up to conserve rain water and enrich the underground water table. In water-scarce areas, transportation is helping to supply potable water. Despite second successive year of deficient monsoon, water is being transported only in 113 villages. Even if it does not rain by end of June, this number will be only around 400 villages out of approximately 50,000 villages in the state.