2012 a drought year, accepts government

Met department delayed fresh monsoon forecast for a fortnight. El Nino is active

By Richard Mahapatra
Last Updated: Thursday 17 September 2015

El Nino conditions are likely to have an adverse impact on the rainfall over the country during the second half of the monsoon season, says Met department (Photo by Pushkar V)

Drought chased monsoon this year. From the first week of June, as monsoon spread across the country, the spectre of drought loomed large. And the government finally accepted it is a drought on August 3, about a fortnight before the end of the sowing season—August 15. A couple of days earlier, the empowered group of ministers on agriculture hinted at a drought worse than the one in 2009 in terms of size of geographical area impacted by deficit monsoon.

“The second half of the monsoon season will be deficient. There may be drought in certain areas,” said Laxman Singh Rathore, director general of India Meteorological Department (IMD), at a press conference on Friday.

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Just a day before that, IMD issued a new monsoon forecast for the next two months of the season. It says the monsoon will be deficient. IMD also acknowledges that El Nino has revived. “The El Nino conditions are likely to have an adverse impact on the rainfall over the country during the second half of the monsoon season,” it says.

The new estimates forecast the monsoon will be less than 90 per cent of the long period average (based on the rainfall patterns from 1951-2000). Rainfall during August will be normal but in September it will be deficient. It may be recalled that IMD had declared a normal monsoon (96 per cent) in its first forecast before the onset of the monsoon.

The second stage forecast of the IMD is usually made in mid-July but this year it was delayed by a fortnight, fuelling speculation that government was not in favour of the usual forecast because of the impact deficient monsoon may have on overall market sentiments. Also, the Union agriculture minister (Sharad Pawar) didn't attend office for a week in the second half of July due to reported political strain with the coalition major, Congress party.

From the very first week of monsoons in June, rain has been deficient. It started with a deficit of 42 per cent. Though monsoon recovered well, at the end of July it still was 20 per cent deficient (see graph). What triggered the alarm bell was the consistent shortfall in the month of July, a critical month for sowing.

Week-wise rainfall deficit

(Source: IMD)

On August 1, the minister of state for agriculture, Harish Rawat, hinted at IMD's change in forecast. “Rains may be normal or even above normal in August. But I am not sure about September,” he told media persons on the sidelines of a conference in Delhi.

The same day, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought met for the first time since 2009, the last severe drought India witnessed. After the meeting, Pawar revealed to the media a drought situation worse than the one in 2009—around 64 percent of India's districts (400 of total 627) are experiencing drought-like situation. “The intensity of the drought is similar to that of 2009,” says Ashish Bahuguna, agriculture secretary to government of India. In 2009, drought impacted 246 districts.

With IMD's new forecast, many states are expected to declare many of their districts drought-affected. This will trigger the official procedures to put in place emergency measures. Though states like Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana are experiencing a big deficit in rainfall (see map), they have not officially declared drought. Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Karnataka have declared many districts drought-impacted and the Central government has already started the process of giving emergency relief. Two days ago, the Central government declared a Rs 2,000 crore relief package to drought-affected states.

Rainfall deficit map


Research: Leading role of internal dynamics in the 2009 Indian summer monsoon drought

Feature: Impact of the 2009 drought on agricultural output: Fantasy or reality?

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  • How easy it is to make some

    How easy it is to make some declaration. Are we not responsible for this situation of drought ? Yes we are equally responsible. The way we are converting GREENS in to CONCRETE jungles, the results of this replacement in an un-planned manner is before us in the shape of droughts etc. We make number of plans to make our environment green ensuring ecological balances but do we adhere the set norms. We never. For all such acts, the punch of the NATURE affects us in many ways and, we have been suffering a lot on this account. We enjoy the present without taking into consideration the future of our next generations who, perhaps are going to face these problems in a painful manner. The sucides being committed by the farmers has now become a great concern of everyone. We blame only NATURE for all such incidents but, do not find faults within ourselves since we are the culprits. Mere taking pledge to do something doesn't carry any meaning unless the norms related to the act/s are adheared in its true spirit. Let's think on it and do whatever possible we can do in this direction to save our Environment..... Jai Hind......

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Namaskar, What type of


    What type of drought we are talking? Is it meteorological Drought? or Hydrological Drought? or Agriculture Drought? or Political Drought [I coined this two decades back]? Hydrological drought refers to in-situ and catchment rainfall flows. Meteorological Drought refers to deficit situation with long term average rainfall of a location or region but this is not naturally Agriculture Drought but creates a political drought for garnering funds from the Central Government. If we look at the rainfall map presented in the article large part of the country received normal rainfall. Even in high rainfall zone if the deficit is more than 20%, it is not a Agriculture Drought like in the case of Eastern parts of India and some parts on the West Coast. Tamil Nadu in general receives its rainfall in northeast monsoon season. That means, the traditional drought prone areas comes under agriculture drought. Here crop planning is essential as still the season continuing. The declaration of drought must be at the end of September and before that agriculture departments must help farming community to grow crops that fit in to moisture condition in deficit zones. Declaring drought now under the pretext of El Nino giving low rainfall is a pretext for declaring political drought that effect economy of the nation giving scope to MNCs to exploit the nation. Let the ICAR do some home work and analyse the agriculture drought scenario region-wise then come up with a solution.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Continued --- after posting

    Continued --- after posting of my observations, I noted three northern states showing deficit rainfall received heavy floods.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • The article and the comments

    The article and the comments made have brought the water crises clearly and the authorities are accepting these facts. Certainly based on the ground reality, one has to accept as every one is talking the same. Droughts and Floods have become part of our life and every year we all talk about these disasters and plan for some temporary solutions. On the face, the declaration comes with sanctions and works will be completed on war foot basis. This results for poor quality without sustainability.

    In the media it is shown that some parts of the States have received heavy rainfall and damaged people, infrastructure and environment. It has become habit of talking bad when there is no rain and when there is more rains. It reflects that the problem is with us not with the nature. It is basically lack of plans with quality and sustainability.

    In spite of the odd situation, some of the suggestions are as follows:

    £ Assess the water needs for all purposes

    £ Harvest the rainwater to the maximum

    £ Maintain the Greenery to control Global Warming
    and Climate Change

    £ Develop watersheds and recharge wells for
    enhancing the water resources both on surface and
    at sub-surface.

    £ Make initiations to interlink the rivers to
    control floods and droughts.

    £ Make plans in advance to tackle the water needs
    irrespective of rainfall.

    £ Plan for people oriented development rather than
    scheme oriented i.e., priority for the bottom up

    £ Create awareness and make them advocates to as
    water savers/ protectors / conservators.

    As a thumb rule, if the rainwater is saved to the maximum extent with sustainable measures and water resources were shared among the regions based on the needs for the health and wealth of the people and environment by interlinking the RIVERS,then it certainly leads for the meaningful management and utilization of the water resources with minimum negative impact.

    This saves lot of energy, time and money for achieving the sustainable development of the people as well as the environment. It further leads to address the challenges like Global Warming and Climate Change.

    With right based strategies and interventions with better participation of the stakeholders, it is possible to resolve the water cries with sustainability and quality.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Environmental Degradation,

    Environmental Degradation, Desertification & Poverty Nexus
    Dr. Mirza Arshad Ali Beg
    Former Director General PCSIR
    Pakistan is located in high heat zone area where the intense heat and high aridity has caused widespread degradation of the ecosystem. The area presents a picture of social pollution playing a dominant role in impoverishment of the meager resources of the land to fulfill the demand for urban and industrial development.
    Over exploitation of the meager resources has given rise to degradation of soil, water and vegetation. These three elements of the natural ecosystem serve as the natural foundation for human existence. The fragile ecosystem in Pakistan, has lost the productivity of soil through an irrigation system that has outlived its age, impoverishment of plant, animal, soil and water resources has become irreversible, and has permanently reduced its capacity to support human life.
    Impoverishment of resources leading to environmental degradation is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Therefore, impoverishment of resources leads to desertification which in turn leads to poverty, and the vicious circle completes when poverty leads to further desertification. Operation of the vicious circle is very much apparent from the poverty induced desertification that is rampant all over the rural areas. Shortage of liquid and gaseous fuel created huge demand for firewood. The rural and coastal area is where some small trees are still around and that has prompted the relevant facilitator to go all out for cutting the trees by the root and supplying it to the charcoal kilns owned by him. Hundreds of charcoal kilns have been built just to fulfill this urban and industrial demand and thus the already impoverished rural area has been impoverished further while the short term gain has pushed the wood cutter to absolute poverty.
    Level of poverty is increasing further in this arid zone of the world due to ruthless exploitation of the meager resources compounded by frequent droughts, floods and loss of land due to erosion by the sea. The trend, of uprooting shrubs, cutting trees for fuel wood, over grazing due to over stocking, and sand /gravel removal from the river beds, is spreading from the plains to the interior and towards the hills and mountains. If the current trend continues, the already exhausted rangelands will not be in a position to support the existing level of livestock population of the arid region. The economic impact of such a situation has had direct effect on the population and is likely to increase the level of poverty amongst the herders of the area.
    Such continuous and uninterrupted degradation of natural resources is pushing the ever growing population for its livelihood to migration to urban centres, which are not prepared to absorb it. The migration of the rural population to the urban areas has amassed the urban areas with social problems by increasing slums around the cities. This situation has created law and order problem in the cities. Because of increasing poverty and lack of basic amenities the most vulnerable sections of population like the children and women are being affected and will be badly affected in the next few years.
    Although formal area poverty profile has not been prepared for Thatta and Badin Districts, the two less developed Districts of Pakistan, the secondary data generated by the project preparatory technical assistance (PPTA) shows that 54% are among the ÔÇ£poorestÔÇØ category and 79% may be characterized as poor. In a 2004 national survey PakistanÔÇÖs poorest district was Thatta, and Badin was not far behind. Family income of Rs 5 to7 thousand, arrived at by this Author, already suggests that almost 90% of the families live below the poverty line. All members of the family have to contribute to sustain their subsistence living.
    Based on the above analysis, it is possible to conclude that poverty per se is not a problem of the people of Pakistan; it is the impoverishment of resources at the hands of the get-rich-quickly Syndrome that has induced poverty. The poor have otherwise learnt to live within their means and hence poverty irks them only when they find that the get-rich-quickly syndrome has left him far behind his neighbor.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply