Drought-like con­di­tions per­sist in many States

Bi­har, Kar­nataka and Ma­ha­rash­tra al­ready seek­ing drought re­lief from the Cen­tre

The Hindu Business Line - - FRONT PAGE - TV JAYAN

As many as seven ma­jor States, apart from many smaller States in the North-East, are threat­ened by a drought­like sit­u­a­tion that could se­verely hit food pro­duc­tion and liveli­hood, apart from af­fect­ing drink­ing wa­ter avail­abil­ity in com­ing months, an ex­pert has warned.

“The soil mois­ture deficit is un­der ex­treme to ex­cep­tional cat­e­gory in many States. If the con­di­tion doesn’t im­prove, many parts of the coun­try may wit­ness a wa­ter cri­sis sim­i­lar to that ex­pe­ri­enced in 2015-16,” said Vi­mal Mishra, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Civil En­gi­neer­ing Depart­ment of the In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (IIT), Gand­hi­na­gar.

Ac­cord­ing to one re­port, as many as 33 crore peo­ple in 2.5 lakh vil­lages of 266 dis­tricts in 11 States were af­fected by the se­vere drought in 2015-16.

“This year’s drought is dif­fer­ent from that in pre­vi­ous years as wa­ter scarcity is al­ready af­fect­ing a large part of the coun­try,” Mishra told Busi­nessLine.

Among the States where the rain­fall deficit has al­ready trans­lated into a drought-like sit­u­a­tion are Gu­jarat, Ma­ha­rash­tra, Bi­har, Jhark­hand, Telangana, Ch­hat­tis­garh, Andhra Pradesh, and many North-East­ern States, he said.

Even though, the In­dia Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment fore­cast 97 per cent of the long pe­riod rain­fall aver­age of 89 cen­time­tres dur­ing the 2018 South-West mon­soon sea­son, the rain­fall re­ceived was only 91 per cent of the quan­tum.

Seek­ing Cen­tral as­sis­tance

Some States have al­ready de­clared a drought in their ju­ris­dic­tional ar­eas. While Kar­nataka de­clared 100 talukas across 24 dis­tricts as drought-af­fected last month, Bi­har said a drought was im­mi­nent as 33 out of its 38 dis­tricts suf­fered a rain deficit dur­ing the mon­soon sea­son. Kar­nataka, which es­ti­mated the loss from drought to be ₹16,500 crore, has al­ready sought Cen­tral as­sis­tance of ₹2,434 crore

Kar­nataka, which es­ti­mated the loss from drought to be ₹16,500 crore, has al­ready sought Cen­tral as­sis­tance of ₹2,434 crore for drought re­lief.

Ma­ha­rash­tra is the lat­est State to seek drought re­lief. On Oc­to­ber 31, the State govern­ment de­clared as many as 141 talukas across 26 dis­tricts in the State as drought-hit and sought fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance of ₹7,000 crore from the Cen­tre. The State has a to­tal of 355 talukas and 182 of them are said to be drought-prone.

While eight drought-af­fected dis­tricts each are in the Vi­darbha and Marath­wada

re­gions, five are in north Ma­ha­rash­tra and four in western Ma­ha­rash­tra. Wa­ter scarcity has also hit one dis­trict in the Konkan re­gion of the State.

Ac­cord­ing to the IITGand­hi­na­gar re­searchers led by Mishra, who runs the Wa­ter & Cli­mate lab, which reg­u­larly fore­casts soil mois­ture in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, a drought is loom­ing in other States too. “Ex­ces­sive ground­wa­ter pump­ing may worsen the sit­u­a­tion in com­ing months. The States may face both sur­face and ground­wa­ter crises in the near fu­ture,” Mishra said.

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