A high-level meeting, presided over by Union Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha and attended by Chief Secretaries of all drought-affected states, also decided immediate drought relief out of the State Disaster Response Fund. States will be given funds immediately under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for fodder, an official source said here. The states were also expected to approach the Center for availing of financial assistance under the National Life stock Mission implemented by the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. Among other directives, the Cabinet Secretary instructed the Ministry for Drinking Water and Sanitation to release funds for rural drinking water supply to mitigate problems faced by the state governments. “The rural development ministry shall ensure that the drought-affected states give wage employment to people over and above the stipulated 100 days and release funds on time,” the source said. Also present at the meeting were secretaries in the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development, Drinking Water, Animal Husbandry, Food and Public Distribution, Water Resources, Home Affairs, Finance and Railways. Other critical issues of providing additional employment of 50 days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme over and above the 100 days, preparation of crop contingency plans for districts facing drought and allocation for drought relief were also discussed. The food grain situation and its distribution through the public distribution system under the National Food Security Act, assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund /State Disaster Response Fund, provisioning for nutritional requirement of children and lactating mothers, midday meal scheme, and most importantly, the drinking water supply were also reviewed, the sources said. On Sunday, at the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Center announced that Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh will get a special package of Rs.1,304 crore for drought relief under the National Disaster Relief Fund. The Center also said that drought-like situations in Vidharbha and Marathwada in Maharashtra too would be reviewed at high-level meetings.

2009-2016 Independent News Service.