Sluggish monsoon may spell trouble for farm sector
Southwest monsoon this year has become a thing of concern for policymakers as it has not just been delayed by a week, but it is also likely to be sluggish and erratic, which may spell trouble for the farm sector.
 
Paddy, the primary crop of the kharif season, is likely to be hit as June as well as July are expected to be rain-deficit. The output of pulses such as arhar (pigeon pea), soybean and coarse cereals is also likely to be affected.
 
As droughts occurred in patches across the country, there won't be a disastrous impact on the overall food-grain production but it may have beating on small and marginal farmers by way of breaching their income security.
 
"The areas with irrigation such as Punjab and Haryana are not of concern. The real challenge will be looking at the income security of small and marginal farmers in rain-fed areas," said T. Nandkumar, former Union Agriculture Secretary.
 
A senior official at the Agriculture Ministry said that it was in constant touch with the states to apprise the Centre of the developing situation.
 
"We have asked them to be prepared with precautionary and remedial measures in case there is deficit rainfall," said the official, requesting anonymity.
 
However, there was no clarity if the state governments have ensured optimum seed reserves if first sowing attempt goes waste due to erratic rainfall.
 
The Food Ministry has started procuring over 50,000 tonnes of onion to deal with shortage if output goes down, indicating the government is not optimistic about good rainfall this year.
 
Farmers have been advised by private weather forecaster Skymet to postpone sowing by almost a week of the conventional dates as it said there are less chances of rains if the onset of the monsoon is delayed.
 
If there is a long gap between two rain spells, there is high probability of newly planted seeds getting killed.
 
Skymet has predicted "below average" monsoon -- 93 per cent of LPA -- this year with indications of higher risk in the eastern parts and major portion of Central India being rain deficient.
 
The average, or normal, rainfall in the country is defined between 96 and 104 per cent of a 50-year average for the entire four-month monsoon season, or Long Period Average (LPA), which is 887 mm.
 
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted "near normal" monsoon -- 95 per cent of the LPA -- with evenly distributed rainfall.
 
It, however, said there is 51 per cent chance that the monsoon would be normal or above while there is 49 per cent probability that it remains below normal.
 
The Agriculture Ministry official said the rainfall this time is expected to be "erratic" and "sluggish" citing recent developments related to the monsoon.
 
The second half of the rainy season would see better rainfall as August and September are expected to see normal rains. However, the entire season is expected to end on a deficit note.
 
The rainfall in June will be 77 per cent (164 mm) of the LPA while it will be 91 per cent (289 mm) in July, 102 per cent (261 mm) in August and 99 per cent (173 mm) in September, as per Skymet.
 
Skymet has said that paddy production is expected to reduce to 97.78 million tonnes this kharif season compared to 101.96 million tonnes in the previous season.
 
It also said there is 40 per cent possibility of about 66 per cent districts in the country being deficient or largely deficient if the monsoon is "below normal". 
 
Nandkumar expects about 100 districts, including those in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, Telangana, Bihar and Jharkhand, to be rain deficient. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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Aviation scam: ED quizzes Praful Patel for 8 hours
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) here on Monday questioned for over eight hours former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in connection with a money laundering probe into the losses suffered by Air India under the alleged multi-crore aviation scam.
 
This was Patel's first appearance before the agency in connection with the case. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader has been called again for questioning on Tuesday. On June 6, he had skipped the ED questioning citing prior commitments and asked for a new date.
 
The case follows a criminal complaint registered by the ED over alleged irregularities in fixing air slots for international airlines that purportedly led to losses for Air India. However, he has denied any wrongdoing.
 
The ED has already questioned several Air India officials and also recorded statements of then Civil Aviation Secretary and others involved in processing and finalising the agreements.
 
Patel was the Civil Aviation Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government between 2004 and 2011, when the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines took place. 
 
According to senior ED officials, the agency asked Patel about the Air India and the ministry officials who favoured foreign airlines by giving up profit-making routes and profit-making timings.
 
Patel's questioning has come almost after a month when the ED filed its final report in the alleged aviation scam. 
 
In its May 1 charge-sheet, the ED named corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar and alleged that he finalised various communications addressed to Patel on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia.
 
Talwar, currently in judicial custody, was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January this year.
 
The ED probe encompasses Air India-Indian Airlines merger; purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus at Rs 70,000 crore; ceding of profitable routes and schedules to private airlines; and opening of training institutes with foreign investment.
 
It is also investigating how the money received in Talwar's accounts were transferred to government employees, including those in the Civil Aviation Ministry. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Govt Compulsorily Retires 12 Top Tax Officers over Charges Ranging from Extortion, Bribe, Sexual Harassment
The government has compulsorily retired almost a dozen senior tax officers on charges ranging from extortion, bribe and sexual harassment.
 
The axe has fallen on about 12 senior officers of the rank of chief commissioners, principal commissioners, commissioners of income-tax (I-T) department under rule FR (fundamental rule) 56 (j) of central civil services (pension) rules.
 
The officers include Ashok Agarwal, joint commissioner of I-T and former deputy director, ED; SK Srivastava, commissioner (appeal, NOIDA; Homi Rajvansh, IRS 1985 batch; BB Rajendra Prasad; Ajoy Kumar Singh; B Arulappa; Alok Kumar Mitra; Chander Saini Bharti; Andasu Ravinder; Vivek Batra; Swetabh Suman and Ram Kumar Bhargava. 
 
This is major crackdown by Modi government 2.0 on bureaucrats and officials indulging in alleged corruption practices.
 
Among the key tax officials shown the door is Ashok Agarwal who has remained suspended from 1999 to 2014. He faced serious allegations of corruption and extortion from businessman accused of helping late 'godman' Chandraswami. Mr Agarwal was found to have acquired ill-gotten wealth to the tune of Rs12 crore and faced a CBI (central bureau of investigation) enquiry.
 
The 1989-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer has also been retired prematurely as he faced charges of alleged sexual harassment.
 
Some of the tax officers forced to exit the service acquired movable and immovable properties without obtaining required approvals.
 
One of the disgraced officer Homi Rajvansh had illegal acquired assets worth Rs3.17 crore. Finance ministry sources said Mr Rajvansh was arrested by CBI after absconding from his headquarters to evade arrest.
 
Another officer BB Rajendra Prasad was arrested by the CBI on allegations of passing favourable order for illegal gratifications while SK Srivastava, commissioner (appeal), NOIDA is accused of sexual harassment to two women IRS officers of commissioner rank.
 
In the case of Ajoy Kumar Singh, sources said that CBI, ACB, Mumbai, had registered a disproportionate assets case when Mr Singh was additional commissioner of I-T, Mumbai. He was also arrested by the CBI in connection with the case and placed under suspension w.e.f. 25.10.2009.
 
Officers have also been compulsorily retired for incompetence as in the case of B Arulappa. He allegedly proved to be ineffective as a supervisory officer and failed to ensure assignment of important cases having large tax implication to senior and experienced officers. But, ministry sources said that Alok Kumar Mitra is allegedly involved in many cases of corruptions and extortion and passed many wrong and malafide assessment orders which were later on reversed by the appellate authorities.
 
On the other hand, Chander Saini Bharti was apprehended by CBI in connection with a trap case and the bribe money of Rs30 lakh was recovered from angadiya (courier) used by him. He was allegedly found using hawala channels for transferring the ill-gotten money.
 
Swetabh Suman was arrested by CBI in New Delhi on 13 April 2018 for allegedly demanding Rs50 lakh for giving relief in a shell company matter to a businessman. The amount was recovered from a middle-man and searches were carried out by CBI on the premises linked to Swetabh Suman in Guwahati, Jorhat, Shillong, Noida and Delhi.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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COMMENTS

B. KRISHNAN

4 days ago

A warning signal to bureaucrats to fall in line with the Govt's intention to work for the good of the people. During the first term of the NDA these bureaucrats had created hurdles with hidden agendas. Now the govt means business and will not allow their efforts to be stymied by the infamous Indian babudom!

R Balakrishnan

5 days ago

So heartwarming to read. Hope their wealth is confiscated and they are jailed for the rest of their lives. Mere dismissal is no punishment

REPLY

GOKUL

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 4 days ago

It is not Dismissal from Service. It is only Compulsory/Premature retirement with all benefits like pension, gratuity, Leave encashment etc

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