The government will provide additional power from the Central pool to the States for irrigation “wherever feasible and available” and expedite the release of additional assistance sought by drought-affected States. The States would fully utilise the Central assistance for drought mitigation and put on hold expenditure on medium and long-term schemes.

This was agreed upon as an ‘action plan” by the Central and State governments at a day-long meeting of State Agriculture Ministers on Drought convened by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar here on Friday.

Mr. Pawar said the Centre would formulate a scheme for large-scale sinking of shallow tubewells, with a subsidy for farmers in drought districts.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Krishi Vigyan Kendras would help the States in preparing advisories for the farmers about alternative crops, pest surveillance, pesticide use and nutrient requirement. The Centre would ensure quick availability of fertilizers and quality seeds to the States, while the latter would build a buffer stock of fertilizers.

State Ministers agreed to utilise the Central funds for various schemes in 2009-10 primarily for production and productivity increases, restoring water bodies, soil moisture conservation, and micro irrigation.

They also agreed to “fully utilise” the funds available from the Department of Drinking Water Supply for addition of new drinking water sources and repairing the existing ones.

They agreed to organise a drive against spurious seeds and pesticide manufacturers/distributors and take stringent action against defaulters.

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