The Cabinet Secretary, Government of India took a meeting to review the situation arising out of rain deficiency and drought affected areas of the country. The Chief Secretaries of all the drought affected states participated in the meeting. The Secretaries of concerned departments and ministries of Government of India viz., Agriculture, Rural Development, Drinking Water, Animal Husbandry, Food & Public Distribution, Water Resources, Home Affairs, Finance and Railways took part in the deliberations. The Central Drought Relief Commissioner made an overarching presentation to this Committee of Secretaries on rain fall deficiency and Kharif 2015, Rabi 2015-16 and measures taken/being taken to obviate difficulties faced by the farmers in the drought hit states.
The issue of the timely initiative on diesel, seed, horticulture and fodder subsidy relief during drought was reviewed. Other critical issues of providing additional employment of 50 days under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) over and above 100 days, preparation of crop contingency plans for districts facing drought and allocation for drought relief to be provided under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) were also discussed. The foodgrain situation and its distribution through Public Distribution System under National Food Security Act, assistance under National Disaster Response Fund /State Disaster Response Fund, provisioning for nutritional requirement of children and lactating mothers, Mid Day Meal Scheme, and most importantly, the Drinking Water Supply were also reviewed.
Thereafter, consultations were held with the Chief Secretaries of all the drought affected States. This related to State’s specific problems and requirements, which were duly noted. After this beneficial exchange of views on the specific subjects of drinking water, rural employment, supply of fodder, release of immediate relief assistance, the Union Cabinet Secretary directed the Central Government departments and ministries to take the following steps:
1. Make immediate allocation of funds to the State Governments under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for procurement of fodder. The State Governments should also approach the Centre immediately for availing financial assistance under the National Life Stock Mission implemented by Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries. A detailed advisory will be issued on measures for increasing availability of fodder to mitigate the effects of drought;
2. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to release funds for rural drinking water supply to obviate problems faced by State Governments;
3. The Ministry of Rural Development shall ensure that the drought affected States give wage employment to people over and above the stipulated 100 days, and release funds timely to the States. The Ministry of Rural Development has already liquidated its liabilities accrued on the issue of wage payments to the states;
4. Immediate drought relief to be provided through release of funds under the State Disaster Response Fund;
5. The norms for immediate financial relief to drought affected states under National and State Disaster Relief Fund should be re-cast to take care of this situation. These norms to be finalised and implemented;
6. The relief being provided on account of water supply through Rail and Water tankers to be maintained;
7. The Cabinet Secretary shall monitor the situation arising out of rain deficiency and drought at regular intervals.