Good News, At Last, on the Mon­soon

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Af­ter two suc­ces­sive droughts, the weather of­fice has forecast an ‘above nor­mal’ mon­soon this year, which comes as wel­come re­lief that would shore up ex­pec­ta­tions in agri­cul­ture and should con­se­quently rev up ru­ral de­mand and boost the over­all growth mo­men­tum. The first-stage forecast of the In­dia Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal De­part­ment (IMD) is that rain­fall dur­ing the south­west mon­soon sea­son of June-Septem­ber is ex­pected to be 106% of the Long Pe­riod Av­er­age (LPA). Note that 96-104% of the LPA is con­sid­ered ‘nor­mal’ and the IMD is pre­dict­ing ‘above nor­mal’ rains for the first time since 1999.

Also no­table is the fact that the IMD ex­pects well-dis­trib­uted rain­fall na­tion­ally. The Cen­tre, mean­while, has okayed the Na­tional Hy­drol­ogy Project, which has an out­lay of over .₹ 3,600 crore, de­signed to pro­vide real-time in­for­ma­tion on wa­ter re­sources in­clud­ing on ground­wa­ter and fa­cil­i­tate their sci­en­tific, sus­tain­able and more eq­ui­table man­age­ment. The plan is that data from the Na­tional Wa­ter In­for­mat­ics Cen­tre would be seam­lessly ac­cessed by one and all in the vil­lage/dis­trict/state. The fact re­mains that there is a huge po­ten­tial to con­serve and economise on wa­ter us­age. In­dia uses two-to-four times as much wa­ter as China/US to pro­duce one unit of ma­jor food crops. We also need to speed­ily dif­fuse drip ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems and in­cen­tivise crop se­lec­tion in each re­gion to suit its agro-cli­matic po­ten­tial: why grow wa­ter-guz­zling sug­ar­cane in wa­ter-scarce Ma­ha­rash­tra, when Bi­har is so much bet­ter suited for the crop?

Be­sides, fruit, veg­eta­bles and live­stock cul­ti­va­tion are all more rel­a­tively wa­ter-in­ten­sive. And as we cope with ris­ing de­mand for the su­pe­rior foods, we need to proac­tively im­prove wa­ter man­age­ment, es­pe­cially as the dis­tri­bu­tion of wa­ter re­sources is very un­even na­tion­wide.

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