New Delhi: As India's rain deficit drops below 25 per cent, many of the states are now struggling with a drought like situation. The Prime Minister met representatives of state governments to ascertain their preparedness in dealing with the impact.
It was an unprecedented meeting where the Prime Minister chose to address chief secretaries of all the states hoping to send out a strong message that the Central Government was fully behind the states in this time of crisis.
The meeting also underlined the fact that although 141 districts in the country have been declared as drought affected, no state has sent its memorandum seeking assistance.
The Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was not impressed, though.
"What we require is not directions on what we must do, instead we need monetary assistance to cover expenses for what has been done and what needs to be done ahead. I would request the honourable Prime Minister to extend help," Nitish Kumar said.
Demand for more funds to fight the drought came in from many states but it is not easy to get funds from the Centre.
First, the states have to exhaust the Relief Contingency Fund, and then submit a memorandum to the Centre detailing its need, after which the centre sends its team to the states to inspect the ground situation.
By the time relief reaches the ground, the crisis goes out of hand.
There is little time to waste even though there is acknowledgment of the crisis at the top.
"Agricultural operations have been adversely affected in several parts of the country causing distress to farmers and their families," the Prime Minister acknowledged.
Many states also demanded for more foodgrains to be distributed in the PDS but ironically, the Prime Minister in turn has asked the states to strengthen procurement and crack down on black marketeers and hoarders.
The emphasis of the meeting was on preparing for the Rabi crop as the damage of the Kharif crop is already done.
The UPA government's wait and watch policy has reaped a deadly harvest.