Scarcity amid plenty

Be it tem­ple tanks or rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing struc­tures, South In­dia had set the stan­dard in wa­ter con­ser­va­tion. Now they are just for­got­ten tra­di­tions

Down to Earth - - DROUGHT -

Tnot the first time the wa­ter-rich South In­dia is grap­pling with drought. In fact, cer­tain parts of the south­ern penin­sula, such as north­ern Kar­nataka, Te­lan­gana and the Ray­alseema re­gion of Andhra Pradesh, suf­fer from drought al­most ev­ery other year. But a 2016 trend anal­y­sis of droughts be­tween 1901 and 2004 by re­searchers from the Pur­due Uni­ver­sity, the US, and the In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy at Kan­pur and Gand­hi­na­gar shows that their oc­cur­rence and in­ten­sity across the re­gion are on the rise since the 1970s. Droughts have par­tic­u­larly be­come more in­tense and fre­quent af­ter 1990, it states. An anal­y­sis by Down To Earth shows that the re­gion has faced six se­vere droughts be­tween 2004 and 2016. The cur­rent drought, which started tight­en­ing its grip over some parts of the re­gion in 2014, ap­pears to be the worst of all.

But why is a re­gion that ben­e­fits from two mon­soons a year and re­ceives co­pi­ous amount of rain­fall be­com­ing drought-prone? His­tor­i­cally, if one mon­soon failed, the sub­se­quent mon­soon came to the res­cue of the af­fected re­gion. But this no longer seems to be the case. Ker­ala, Andhra Pradesh and Kar­nataka de­clared drought in Oc­to­ber 2016 soon af­ter the summer mon­soon failed to yield the de­sired rain­fall. Af­ter the fail­ure of the northeast mon­soon, Tamil Nadu joined the list and each of the other states has de­clared larger ar­eas as drought-af­fected.

Be­sides, the in­crease in fre­quency of droughts in South In­dia does not match with the per­for­mance trends of the northeast mon­soon, which ac­counts for 30-80 per cent of the to­tal rain­fall the re­gion re­ceives in a year. A study pub­lished in jour­nal The­o­ret­i­cal and Ap­plied Cli­ma­tol­ogy in 2012 shows that win­ter rains in the penin­su­lar In­dia have in­creased by 0.4 mm a day per decade be­tween 1979 and 2010.

“Drought is a tricky term,” says S Janakara­jan, econ­o­mist, for­merly with the Madras In­sti­tute of De­vel­op­ment Stud­ies, Chen­nai. While

In Andhra Pradesh's God­du­marri vil­lage, peo­ple have drilled over 40 borewells on a 405 sq m com­mu­nity land next to a tem­ple. This is caus­ing the dry riverbed of the Chri­tra­vati, barely 500 me­tres from the tem­ple, to cave in at places AYE­SHA MINHAZ

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.