Ranchi, Aug 12 IANS | 2 years ago

As many parts of the country receive rain far in excess of the average this monsoon, Jharkhand is reeling under deficit rainfall which has affected paddy sowing in a number of districts, leading to fears of a drought-like situation.

According to official data, Jharkhand has received 476 mm rainfall till the second week of August, against the average rainfall of 771 mm for the period.

Paddy sowing has been taken up in around 32 percent of the land dedicated to the crop in the state. At least six districts have thus far received less than 10 percent of the average rainfall for the year.

The worst affected districts are Palamu, Garwah, Koderma, Godda and Pakur. They have seen less than 10 percent of the paddy sown; at Koderma, only one percent of the land dedicated to paddy has seen sowing so far.

In seven districts, Chatra, Ramgarh, Latehar, Giridih, Jamtara, Deoghar and Sahebganj, sowing has occurred at less than 20 percent of fields dedicated to paddy.

Jharkhand government has yet to announce any measures to help farmers.

The state agriculture portfolio is at present with Chief Minister Hemant Soren. Reliable sources have indicated that the portfoilio will go to the Congress after the second round of expansion of the cabinet.

The three new ministers belonging to the Congress party -- under an arrangement between partners of the ruling coalition in the state, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Congress -- are likely to take oath later this week.

"We are assessing the situation. It is too early to announce that Jharkhand will witness drought-like conditions. The rainfall situation may improve and help the farmers in the coming few days," an official of the state agriculture department told IANS.

Jharkhand met office has admitted that rainfall has been deficient so far, but deny any drought-like situation.

"There is deficiency in rainfall in some parts of the state. We however cannot say that a drought-like situation is prevailing. The situation can improve as rainfall is taking place in the state," G.K. Mohanty, director of the Jharkhand Met office, said.

During the comparable period in 2012 and 2011, more than 65 percent paddy sowing had taken place. In 2011 and 2012, Jharkhand received normal rainfall.

Jharkhand farmers depend to a huge extent on rain -- only 12 percent of the cultivable land in the state receives water through an irrigation system.

(Posted on 12-08-2013)