Concerned over the long shadow the impending second successive drought may cast on the farmers of Haryana, already reeling under the losses inflicted by the unseasonal rain and hailstorms, Ms Kiran Choudhry, Leader of the Haryana Congress Legislature Party, has shot off a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Lal Khattar, asking him to take some immediate steps to ensure that its impact is minimized. Playing the role of “constructive opposition,” she has gone to the extent of suggesting five immediate measures to ward off the prospect of the farmers being driven to take the extreme step some took in the wake of their crops getting destroyed in March-April. According to the IMD, the monsoon this year is expected to be deficient -- second in a row with 88 per cent of the long-period average--and worse off will be the northern fringe which includes Haryana and Punjab.
In her letter, she has regretted the fact neither any meeting has been held on the subject, nor any plan has been prepared to cope with the threat of drought while stressing the fact that state intervention has to be “timely, pointed and purposeful.”Ms Choudhry stated that the state government’s policy response should aim at safeguarding the livelihoods, not just crops. “With the second dry year stretching the irrigation sources to un-stretchable limits, poor and marginal farmers in the rain-fed areas of the state will be distressed. They will need alternative sources of livelihood and regular income. We must find ways of making it possible,” she demanded.The farmers are set to sow paddy and other kharif crops. With the monsoon playing truant, farmers in the rain-fed areas will have to draw water from tube-wells for which adequate power supply should be ensured, never mind if power has to be bought at higher rates. “Some states are already taking steps in this direction. We should not lag behind,” she said.
She wants the state government to suggest to the farmers what kind of crops they can grow in a drought year and supplement the suggestion with making provision for inputs, including power, seeds and fertilizers, at subsidized rates.She wants banks to extend “drought loan” to the farmers at cheap rates to enable them to meet their needs, including domestic. “If banks require, the state government should underwrite such loans. This suggestion is vital to ward off what happened after the unseasonal rains ruined farmers’ crops in March-April, driving some of them to take the extreme step,” Ms Chaudhry wrote.
Since urban consumers may have to cope with sudden spikes in the prices of pulses, vegetables, fruits and dairy products, arrangements should be made to provide them supplies at reasonable rates, she demanded.She concluded the letter with the hope that the CM will take personal interest in the matter and get things moving as suggested coping with the threat of second-year drought.