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Odisha records over 30 pc deficit rainfall, govt looking at contingency plan to mitigate “dry spell”

Bhubaneswar,  With the entire Odisha experiencing deficit rainfall this monsoon, the state government on Monday asked all district collectors to prepare necessary action plans to mitigate the “dry spell”, officials said.

Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra, during a high-level video conference with collectors and other senior officials, observed that shortage of seasonal rainfall between June 1 and August 23 has adversely affected agricultural activities across the state.

He noted that 30 blocks spread over 15 different districts may have to make use of an action plan to avert the crisis, and asked the collectors to work on that front.

The coastal state has received only 571 mm of rain since June as against the anticipated 820.5 mm, a source at the Special Relief Commissioner’s Office said, adding that the average deficit rainfall in Odisha now stands at minus 30.3 per cent.

Eight districts — Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar, Angul, Boudh, Jajpur and Bhadrak — have recorded deficit rainfall anything between 39 per cent and 59 per cent, and 18 others registered below 39 per cent, the SRC source said.

“Odisha had been receiving continuous rainfall, but the volume is less than normal,” said Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre Director HR Biswas.

In the month of June, the state recorded 16.6 per cent deficit rainfall, which increased to 21.3 per cent in July and 53.1 per cent in August.

S K Vashisth, the principal secretary of agriculture and famers” empowerment department, explained that “thirty blocks in 15 districts are experiencing moisture stress condition, which have severely affected crops. There is, however, no drought situation anywhere”.

Vashisth, who attended the video conference, also said that the chief secretary has directed the collectors to ensure that agricultural workers get jobs under MGNREGA or other state schemes, as and when necessary.

“In places, where paddy cultivation has suffered damage due to low rainfall, farmers would be encouraged to grow alternative crops amid the dry spell. The state seeds corporation has been told to help the farmers with requisite supply,” he underlined.

Stressing that his department has prepared a contingency plan to help the distressed farmers, Vashist further stated that the senior officials, during the meeting, also discussed ways to make the best use of the existing irrigation projects.

“The chief secretary has given directions for creation of 20 lakh more mandays in rain-deficit districts to provide employment to agricultural workers. The state has thus far created 10 lakh mandays under MGNREGA,” the principal secretary added. PTI