New Delhi: The Indian government is working on water management plans to ensure adequate supply till next monsoon in the face of deficit rainfall this year, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said.
"Reports from experts on the monsoon making up the deficit in the rest of the season are not optimistic. We are making plans for water management till July 2013 (next year's monsoon)," he said during an event Monday.
Rainfall, crucial to farm dependent Indian economy, was 20% below average in the week ended July 25, narrowing slightly from the 22% deficit in the previous week ended July 18, the weather office had said earlier, further intensifying fears that the country is headed towards significant shortfall in rains this year.
The deficiency in rains continue even as the weather office maintained during its revised monsoon forecast recently that the country will receive sufficient rains this year.
Allaying fears of shortage in foodgrain supplies, the agriculture minister said the country's food stock was sufficient and there was "no cause of worry" on that front.
He also said that meetings will be held with the affected state governments from August 1 to assess the monsoon situation and discuss "support measures".
Earlier Sunday, the minister had said, "Everything depends on the return of rains in August and September. But if it doesn't, the situation would become serious."
Earlier last week, Food Minister K V Thomas had also said that despite the country suffering from a deficit monsoon, the government has adequate stocks of rice and wheat to tackle any unfavorable situation and "hence, there is no need for any panic".
According to a data released by India Meteorological Department (IMD), states, including Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and west Rajasthan, have been the worst affected this year with monsoon scarcity being up to 75% in the regions of Saurashtra and Kutch.
Last week, the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) signalled a drought alert, saying that the annual monsoon rains are likely to be below normal this year and directed all ministries concerned to coordinate with state governments to monitor the situation on a weekly basis.
Normal monsoon is crucial for the Indian economy as over 60% of the country's population depends on agriculture and allied activities for livelihood. However, agriculture contributes only about 16% to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
India is the world's second-biggest producer of rice, wheat, sugar and cotton and also one of the largest consumers, with a population of about 1.2 billion.