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Centre asks states to prepare for lower monsoon rains


Kochi: With the MeT office indicating a below normal rainfall across the country in the coming monsoon season, the Centre has asked the states to make preparations to deal with the situation and take up works under the rural job scheme MNREGA.

In an advisory to states, including Kerala — the gateway to monsoon in the country — Rural Development Ministry has said maximum works might be undertaken under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) for effective harvesting of rain water.

“The latest forecast by Indian Meteorological Department indicates that rains could be below average during the coming monsoon season due to an impact of El Nino weather pattern, which can bring a dry spell in the region,” warns the Ministry in its advisory.

Monsoon is expected to arrive on time this year, hitting Kerala on June 1.

Preparing for below-average rains, the states have been asked to take up maximum number of works –renovation of traditional water bodies including de-silting of irrigation tanks and ponds, micro and minor irrigation works and creation, renovation and maintenance of irrigation canals and drains.

The other works permitted under MNREGA to tackle the situation include water conservation and water harvesting structures to augment and improve ground-water situation like underground dykes, earthen dams, stop dams and check dams and drought proofing works such as avenue plantation, development of barren/fallow lands and nursery raising.

In order to minimise the adverse effects of anticipated drought, states have been asked to ensure that the “works as above may be taken up under MNREGA during the next three-four months.”

The timely onset of south-west monsoon is crucial for sowing of kharif (summer) crops like paddy and a deficit in rainfall may hit the rice output.

Last year, the country had received 12 per cent less rains, which hit production of grains, cotton and oilseeds.

After a poor monsoon in 2014, the untimely rains during March-April this year have already put farmers in distress and there have been quite a few cases of farmer suicides.

Good monsoon is crucial for the country’s agriculture as only 40 per cent of the cultivable area is under irrigation.

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