Govt Announces Relief Measures for Drought Hit Areas
The government today announced various relief measures for drought-hit areas of the country that includes increasing the number of guaranteed work days under MGNREGA to 150 days from 100 days and reducing interest rates on rescheduled crop loans to 7 per cent for this fiscal.
Announcing these measures, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said the government expects fall in production of coarse cereals and pulses in Kharif (summer) season although the monsoon deficiency has now come down to 8 per cent.
Pawar was briefing the media about the decisions taken by the empowered group of ministers
(EGoM) on drought, headed by him, yesterday for providing relief in the drought-hit areas.
Four states -- Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan -- have declared drought in more than 390
"One of the demands made by most of the states, where drought has been declared, was that the MGNREGA jobs provided for 100 days should be increased by 50 days. The decision was taken yesterday to provide additional 50 mandays in drought-affected areas. So, 150 MGNREGA jobs will be provided," Pawar said.
Under MGNREGA scheme, the government assures 100 days of work every year to each household in rural areas. The Centre has provided Rs 33,000 crore to implement the scheme this fiscal, as against Rs 31,000 crore in 2011-12.
"We have decided to make available interest rate at 7 per cent on crop loans, which are rescheduled, instead of 12 per cent in drought-hit areas for this fiscal," he added.
During agrarian crisis, crop loans get converted into term loans for a longer period of three years but at a higher interest rate of 12 per cent.
That apart, Pawar said the Centre and state would provide interest subvention to the tune of Rs 261 crore under a NABARD scheme to save horticulture crops in drought-hit areas.
The EGoM approved Rs 846 crore to Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme
(NRDWP) and relaxed some norms, Pawar said.
"This allocation is the part of second installment under the NRDWP. EGoM has relaxed the condition for submission of utilisation certificate for release of funds under this scheme for drought-hit states till December 31, 2012," he added.
Of Rs 846 crore, Rs 286.82 crore will be released to Karnataka, Rs 245.86 crore to Gujarat, Rs 160.7 crore to
Maharashtra, Rs 115.47 crore to Haryana and Rs 37.2 crore to Punjab under the
NRDWP, he added.
The EGoM also approved Rs 261 crore, to be shared equally by the Centre and state, for providing interest subvention on loans provided to farmers to save horticultural crops in drought-hit states under a NABARD scheme.
To improve fodder supply in drought-hit states, Pawar said the EGoM has approved supply of feed concentrate of one kilo per cattle per day at subsidised rate of 25-50 per cent of the cost. The state will decide the actual subsidy.
"One farmer household will be entitled for subsidised fodder for a maximum of 6 cattle in drought-hit states," the minister said, adding that the assistance will also be provided for feed and feed supplement for goat and
Under the centrally sponsored fodder related schemes, the minister said the EGoM has given nod for increasing the central share on setting up of fodder drop making units to 75 per cent from 50 per cent for this fiscal, especially to cooperative, milk unions, federation and state establishments.
It has decided to raise the component of establishment of fodder bank with the budget provision for this year, he added.
The panel of ministers also decided to extend subsidy on seeds to farmers till March 2013 in drought-hit areas.
In the last EGoM, the government had allocated Rs 2,000 crore under various schemes to boost supply of drinking water, fodder and seeds in drought-hit states. It had announced diesel subsidy, raised ceiling on seed subsidies.
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