Government says it has crisis management plan for drought


New Delhi : The government says it has a Crisis Management Plan (CMP) to deal with the drought the country may face in the wake of a delayed monsoon.

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The plan, which has been charted out jointly by the agricultural ministry and the Co-operation Drought Management Division, refers to the programme to be pressed into action in the event of a crisis situation to minimise damage to life, property and environment.

“The goal of crisis management is to facilitate overall management of the crisis situation to minimise adverse impact on the community at large, maintaining individual and sovereign credibility and controlling and strengthening the government’s credibility with the public,” the plan document says.

It has a crisis management framework that features six stages – normal, alert, warning, emergency, acute (potential disaster) and recovery (post disaster).

Level one is the normal situation, where rainfall is above 19 percent cumulatively for more than a four weeks period throughout the season. This, according to the plan, is the stage to develop and strengthen drought preparedness, assess food and water requirements and resources. Its vulnerability magnitude is zero.

Level two is the phase of alert with a vulnerability magnitude of 1-2. It forecasts the late onset of monsoon coupled with a continuing water crisis and heat wave.

In this level, preparation of an updated ‘Contingency Crop Plan’ and its propagation through effective agro-advisory services is needed. Other strategic response action in this level is encouraging short-term water conservation measures, water budgeting, issuing health advisories and ensuring availability of emergency medical services.

The vulnerability magnitude is moderate in the Level 3 warning stage. In this phase, the CMP stresses on realising the objectives of the ‘Contingency Crop Plan’. It also called for the operationalisation of short-term water conservation measures by municipal and district agencies, water budgeting by the irrigation and drinking water department.

Level 4 is the phase of emergency with a vulnerability magnitude of 5-7. Deficit or no rainfall during the sowing period, mid-season withdrawal of monsoon, dry spell for more than four weeks, deficit rainfall in the range of 20-40 percent, wilting of crops due to water shortage and continuing heatwave conditions are indicators of this level.

In this phase, the frameworks says the cabinet should take vital decisions like deferring or rescheduling fresh loans, movement of water and fodder through railways, additional allocation of food grains, establishing cattle camps, alternative employment generation programmes, enhancing Public Distribution System allocations or import food grains to meet the gap between demand and supply and check inflation.

Level 5 is the extreme or fully blown drought situation. In this level, the CMP’s strategic response includes a decision by the cabinet for constituting a task force under the chairmanship of a minister to take decisions during the acute crisis.

It recommends special assistance to farmers and other sectors like diary, poultry and fisheries. The plan also suggests preventive measures for the loss of human/cattle life on account of potential disaster.

Phase 6 is the recovery level in the post disaster period. This is the time for rescheduling of farm loans, early release of input subsidy, payment of losses in time to the beneficiaries, agri-insurance and other benefits.

This level also recommends monitoring of the ongoing relief measures and taking necessary course correction.