Saturday, August 08, 2009

Adequate foodgrains available for any difficult situation:

Observing that the country was facing a "difficult situation" following delayed and deficient rainfall, PM Manmohan Singh has said the Centre has adequate foodgrains and would not hesitate to take strong measures and intervene in the market if the need arose.

"Agricultural operations have been adversely affected in several parts of the country causing distress to farmers. A deficit of more than 6 million hectares has been reported in paddy, which is the worst affected crop," he said addressing the Conference of Chief Secretaries on the monsoon situation at New Delhi on Saturday.

The government has enough cushion on account of bumper production in the previous two years, Singh said. "We are in a position to ensure adequate availability of foodgrains in drought affected areas. We should not hesitate to take strong measures and intervene in the market if the need were to rise," Singh said in the presence of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Emphasising the need to act promptly, collectively and effectively, he assured the Centre's full support regarding any additional assistance that States would require on this front. "In no case, should we allow citizens to go hungry."

Cautioning that the reduced production of Kharif crop in the current year may have an inflationary impact on prices of food items in the coming months, Singh said the Centre and states will have to work together and activise the public distribution system (PDS).

"We will also have to ensure effective enforcement of stock holding limits and strong action against hoarders and black marketeers," Singh said, observing that of late, the country has witnessed rising trend in prices of pulses, sugar and some vegetables.

On immediate concerns over monsoon, Singh urged states to commence relief operations wherever there was a need. "In case the Contingency Relief Fund available with the States is not sufficient, they (States) should quickly prepare a detailed memorandum for assistance under the National Calamity Contingency Fund," he said.

Singh regretted that no state governments has so far send memorandum seeking assistance for drought affected districts, even though 141 districts of the country have been declared as drought affected.

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