Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of monsoon in the country on Thursday.
Modi presided over a high-level meeting of monsoon review, attended by ministers for Home, Finance, Agriculture, Food and Consumer Affairs and Water Resources; Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister and Additional Principal Secretary to Prime Minister.
Modi's review of the monsoon progress assumes significance in the wake of prevailing drought-like conditions for the last fortnight in the country, staring a threat of food inflation.
Modi also reviewed the steps being taken to contain inflation. It was observed that the measures are having a positive effect, with adequate rice stocks reaching markets country-wide. There is now no shortage of onion stocks in Delhi, the officials told the PM.
The Prime Minister said states should set up special courts for speedy trial of hoarders and black marketeers.
While appraising the country's monsoon situation, the officials of India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that though the monsoon has been delayed, rainfall is likely to improve substantially in the months of July and August.
Modi also reviewed the position of water reservoirs and fodder stock. He directed that maximum possible use be made of the existing water resources, and best practices in rainwater harvesting.
A contingency plan has been prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture for more than 500 districts in the country. The Prime Minister stressed on the need for both Centre and states to proactively mount a coordinated effort in implementing the advance action plan for the monsoon, with districts - rather than states - being the unit of planning.
The Prime Minister emphasized on ensuring adequate power and seed availability for the agricultural sector, and directed that National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) be used to generate rural employment, if necessary.
Scanty rainfall in June has resulted in the soaring up of prices of vegetables, especially onions, the key ingredient of Indian cuisines. National Weather Forecasting Centre at the India Meteorological Department has stated that the monsoon may not progress in the next two-three days.
Fields of oilseeds, pulses and paddy were parched. The Meteorological Department has stated that June rainfall is among the lowest in a century.
Unless the monsoon advances rapidly, India will have to face with soaring price of food articles. It is reported that water level in many reservoirs is lower than last year's levels.
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, a Delhi-based farmers' association, is worried about the current monsoon situation in the country. The Samaj expects rise in prices of all vegetables in coming months.
If the country faces shortage of rain, then production cost for farmers will go up, the Samaj fears. Onion prices increased about 16 percent to Rs 14-20 per kg in recent days.