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Drought will be 1st challenge for new CS Pankaj Kumar
Gandhinagar: With a possible drought looming over the state, Pankaj Kumar--Gujarat’s new Chief Secretary who will take charge on Tuesday--has his work cut out for him.
The state has received just 42% of expected rainfall so far this monsoon season and water levels in most dams are at less than 50% storage capacity.
While the India Meteorological Department has forecast rain in the coming days, it is unlikely that the deficit will be bridged.
This means that Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities could have to depend on the Narmada river and groundwater supplies for their basic requirements this year.
The government will have to take a call based on the on-ground situation by September 15 and announce a relief package, if the state has not received adequate rainfall by then.
“CS Kumar and his team will have to work out a drinking-water distribution plan as well as relief work and compensation to farmers who have suffered loss because of poor rainfall.
All of this will require extra funds at a time when the state’s economy is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic,” said a senior official asking not to be named since he is not authorized to speak to the press.
It is going to be a challenge, but Pankaj Kumar has handled crises in 2018, 2019 and Cyclone Tauktae earlier this year. His biggest advantage is that, as additional chief secretary revenue until a few months ago, he has been in direct contact with village heads, and taluka- and district-level revenue officers.
He also has experience handling a water crisis, having dealt with one as Surendranagar Collector. This time, he will have to depend on his team to develop a delivery facility for drinking water. He will have to work closely with officials from the revenue department, relief commissionerate, and the water resources and supply department to prepare a blueprint for drinking water supply, as well as for setting up cattle camps and arrange fodder and water for these camps.
Kumar and the agriculture department will also have to work together to work out a financial aid package for farmers, given the little rain the state has seen so far.