rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Business » 161 districts drought-prone, but don't panic: FM

161 districts drought-prone, but don't panic: FM

Last updated on: August 11, 2009 15:00 IST
Food production to go down as sowing will be 20 per cent lower due to the weak monsoon, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

Deficient rainfall will result in a 20 per cent decline in sowing of summer crops, but Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said there was no need to press the panic button.

Deficient rainfall will result in a 20 per cent decline in sowing of summer crops, but Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said there was no need to press the panic button.

"There is no point in pressing the panic button. This country managed the century's worst drought in 1987. We transported drinking water through railways. We organised fodder for the cattle.

"This country has the experience of handling the situation and I will advice not to press the panic button," he said at the annual conference of chief commissioners and directors general of Income Tax.

The 1987 drought affected over 6,500 villages and 1.4 million hectares of land in Haryana alone. Nearly 66 per cent of India's 140 million hectares of cultivable land depends on rains, while the rest is irrigated.

Mukherjee said that 161 districts have already been declared drought-prone and added that "so far as kharif (summer-sown crops) is concerned. . .  sowing will be down by about 20 per cent."

The meteorology department on Monday forecast this season's monsoon to bring only 87 per cent of the usual rains.

On the impact of weak monsoon on economic growth, Mukherjee said he said he was 'sticking to' Reserve Bank's projection of 6 per cent-plus growth for the current fiscal.

"After all we shall have to wait and watch the performance for the entire period. Now there is no point in saying that we will have high growth or no growth. What will happen we have to accept. But RBI's latest assessment is that it (economic growth) will be 6 per cent plus and I am still sticking to that," Mukherjee said.

Fortunately, Punjab and Haryana have used ground water extensively, because of which sowing in these states has not been affected much, he said.

"But in Bihar and certain other states there has been a shortfall," he noted.

On if there was a 'Plan-B' ready with the government, the finance minister said of course there is a contingency plan to deal with situation. He, however, did not elaborate.

To a separate question on taxes, he exuded confidence that direct tax collection target of Rs 3.7 lakh crore (Rs 3.7 trillion) will be met for the current fiscal.

© Copyright 2013 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.