With deficit rain so far, Odisha works to tackle drought-like conditions

Kharif operations have come to a standstill in most parts of the state, given the deficit rain and low pressures in the Bay of Bengal region.

With Odisha recording over 50 per cent deficit rainfall so far this month, and a moisture stress condition arising in 30 blocks of 15 districts, the state is drawing an elaborate contingency plan to tackle a drought-like situation.

Kharif operations have come to a standstill in most parts of the state, given the deficit rain and low pressures in the Bay of Bengal region.

In the whole season, Odisha has received 28 per cent deficit rainfall so far, with July recording 21 per cent deficit and 50 per cent deficit rain recorded so far in August. “If it does not rain for four or five days at a stretch, paddy transplantation is directly affected,” S K Vasisht, Commissioner and Secretary, Agriculture Department, said. “This has been the situation in specific blocks under our watch. We are looking at a few aspects which can be worked out to have a contingency plan in place to help farmers.”

The department is looking at activating pani panchayats at village levels, assuring water through irrigation points, looking at alternative non-paddy crops for sowing, and provision of work under MGNREGA to farm labourers.

The Water Resources Department has been asked to release water from reservoirs, and joint surveys are being conducted by field staff of Agriculture and Water Resources departments.

“There was a similar situation two years ago. We have asked the respective collectors to submit a contingency plan based on their ground survey at the earliest,” Additional Secretary, Agriculture, R C Jena said. “The plan will be tabled ahead of a high-level committee for approval. If rainfall continues to be deficit, paddy sowing will be very difficult.”

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