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Govt assures of all steps to beat below-normal monsoon


New Delhi: Government is taking all steps to tackle any unforeseen situation arising out of below-normal monsoon this year and states are also alert on the matter, a top official said today.

“All steps are being taken. The state governments are fully alert to this. Meteorological department has put out a very careful estimate about what the rainfall likelihood will be,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Keshav Desiraju said here.

“The anticipation is that the monsoon will be not as good as last year. This will actually (have) impact on the crop that will be available next year and from my point of view as the Secretary Consumer Affairs, my interest is in what is available for the consumers,” he said.

Desiraju was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by industry body CII.

According to the weather department, the monsoon rains are expected on time this year, hitting Kerala on June 1. There are apprehensions, however, about below-normal showers under the impact of El Nino.

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

Agriculture Secretary Siraj Hussain had earlier said that state governments have been asked to gear up to implement the contingency plan in 580 districts.

They have been asked to come up with strategies based on the monsoon forecast. They have also been directed to keep adequate quantity of seeds ready beforehand besides other inputs such as fertilisers, micro nutrients and pesticides.

Untimely rains during March-April this year have already put farmers in distress and there have been quite a few cases of farmer suicides.

As per the second advance estimates released on February 18 this year, the country’s foodgrain production is estimated to decline by three per cent to 257.07 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) over last year.

The production may fall further as various states received unseasonal rains and hailstorms during March-April this year, affecting rabi crops, including wheat.

Talking about amendments to the Consumers Protection Act Desiraju said the bill will be put up before Parliament soon.

The amendments, among other things, seek to create a Consumer Protection Authority on the lines of the US and European countries for fast-tracking redressal of grievances.

“We have proposed amendments in the Act,” he had said adding the amendments could led to setting up of this authority.

He said that in this authority, an individual consumer can take up its case besides a group which can represent consumers.

He added that     there would not be any judicial powers to the authority.

About the issue of higher level of MSG in Maggi noodles, the secretary said, “Something is there but I do not know the details”.

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