Drought-hit areas to get priority: Agriculture Minister

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New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) The government on Wednesday said drought-hit villages and districts spread across the country will get priority under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana.

“There has been good response from all quarters including from states. We are set to get very good results from Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana,” union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told reporters here.

“Nevertheless all drought hit areas will get priority under the scheme,” he said.

Singh said with cooperation from the states and all stakeholders, by September over 500 villages will be covered under the scheme.

The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana (PMKSY) launched in 2015-16 would not only enhance water resources in the country but also increase water use efficiency, the minister said.

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A high-level committee for central assistance to drought-affected states on April 10 recommended Rs.1,304 crore as relief, besides other measures, to Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh under the National Disaster Relief Fund.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ordered a high-level review of the drought situation in Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh as well as Vidarbha and Marathwada in Maharashtra, officials said.

The government also approved an increase in mandays under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNNREGA) from 100 to 150 in Bundelkhand for the current fiscal.

On April 11, expressing its firm resolve to tackle the situation arising out of drought and deficient rains in various parts of the country, the central government directed that the allocation of funds for the affected states should be done immediately for procurement of fodder.

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At a meeting presided over by union cabinet secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha and attended by chief secretaries of all drought affected states, it was also decided that immediate drought relief be provided through release of funds under the State Disaster Response Fund.

It was decided that states will be provided with funds immediately under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for procurement of fodder.

The government has also released over Rs.823 crore to the states for making available potable water in parched areas.

Union Rural Development Minister Birendra Singh on Tuesday said states have been asked to utilise about Rs.170 crore, which is 10 percent of the Rs.1,700 crore, which are lying unutilised with them.

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