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Deficient monsoon’s challenge to be turned into opportunity

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New Delhi: With monsoon rainfall predicted to be deficient this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the “challenge” should be converted into an “opportunity” for looking at other avenues of irrigation as he pitched for boosting the creation of farm ponds as a short-term effort.

Chairing a meeting in New Delhi to review the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, he pressed for quick adoption of a multi-pronged strategy to augment the country’s irrigation network.

With regard to the forecast by the meteorogical department about deficient monsoon rainfall this year, Mr. Modi exhorted officials to treat the “challenge of below-normal rainfall as an opportunity”, a PMO statement said.

He sought a relook at the administrative mechanisms, financial arrangements and technology applications in the irrigation sector, to result in a shorter, more comprehensive decision-making process, which could deliver quick results for the farmers.

The Prime Minister pitched for an intensive short-term effort to boost the creation of farm ponds across the country.

The irrigation plans need to be worked out at the district level, and young officers from the civil services should be asked to propose district-level irrigation plans, Mr. Modi said.

Expansion of irrigation has to be linked with a comprehensive evaluation of cropping patterns across states, as well as a judicious mix of modern and micro irrigation systems such as drip and sprinkler irrigation, he said.

While calling for a thorough study of various traditional irrigation methods across the country, the Prime Minister said young researchers from universities should be involved in irrigation-policy planning.

The Prime Minister said the falling ground-water levels in some states made it necessary to bring about an urgent shift in cropping patterns. He called for focus on maize, and initiatives in value-addition in maize, to make it more attractive for farmers, the statement said.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati, Minister for Rural Development Chaudhary Birender Singh and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan, besides top officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources, Rural Development, Finance, NITI Aayog and PMO.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of the Met department projection that the monsoon rainfall this year is expected to be 88 per cent, downgrading its earlier forecast that the rainfall will be 93 per cent.

The predication has created a scare of a drought, adding to the woes of the farming community which is already going through a crisis.

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