`Drought` still under consideration

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IMPHAL, July 23: Even though most paddy fields in the state are without water due to a drought-like situation, the state cabinet has not been able to declare “drought status” even after the review of cabinet sub-committees.

A cabinet meeting was convened this afternoon at the Chief Minister’s Bungalow to discuss the review report of drought-like situation in the state submitted by the cabinet sub-committee very recently. However, the cabinet only resolved that all River Lift Irrigation (RLI) stations should be made functional by Minor Irrigation Department and required fuel/diesel would be provided by the department till the drought situation eases.

The cabinet further resolved that the Agriculture Department should identify paddy fields which have no source of water and cannot be irrigated through RLI or pump sets. The department would assess the extent of damage and work out a proposal for adequate support measures through alternative cropping, rabi crop or any other suitable means.

It was also resolved that the Agriculture Department should liaise and coordinate with other departments at both state and local level to ensure irrigation and extension services wherever feasible in the state.

The state cabinet will again review the situation after a week.

It may be mentioned that cabinet decided to have a firsthand assessment of situation on the ground by forming special cabinet teams to visit various valley districts where the rainfall conditions were much worse and sowing less than 65 percent.

The special teams were led by the cabinet ministers. Commerce and Industries minister Govindas and IFCD minister Ngamthang Haokip led the team in Bishnupur district; education minister M Okendro and RD & PR minister Francis Ngajokpa led the team in Thoubal district; works minister Dr Kh Ratankumar and social welfare minister AK Mirabai led the team in Imphal West; Speaker Th Lokeshwar and PHED minister I Hemochandra led the team in Imphal East.

The ministers were accompanied by the officials and staffs of respective district agriculture officers. The teams visited the paddy fields at various districts on July 21.

The cabinet would assess the situation based on assessment reports of the ministers and other relevant inputs. The state cabinet had also directed the agriculture department to be ready with a contingency plan to meet the eventuality of drought, in case it was found so by the special teams and the dry spell continued. The Minor Irrigation Department was also instructed to improve the functioning of all River Lift Irrigation Schemes so as to improve the irrigation scenario in the state.

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