Climate Change

Drought watch: More than 44% of India now suffers

India has witnessed the second driest pre-monsoon season in the last 65 years

By Shagun
Published: Monday 17 June 2019

More than 44 per cent of India's areas were under various degrees of drought conditions (abnormally dry to exceptionally dry) as of June 10, 2019 — that is nearly 11 percentage point over a year ago, according to the Drought Early Warning System (DEWS).

Within this, ‘severe to exceptionally dry conditions’ prevailed in 17.33 per cent area, according to the real-time drought monitoring platform.

While just 0.65 per cent of area had ‘exceptionally dry’ conditions in June 2018, it has now jumped to 5.87 per cent, stated the latest data.

Further, the delay in southwest monsoons has worsened the drought index, the DEWS reported.

In the June 6 update, real-time platform recorded 43.02 per cent area under ‘abnormally to exceptionally dry’ conditions. However, the latest data showed an increase (44.17 per cent). 

Similarly, percentage of area under ‘extremely dry to exceptional dry’ increased from 10.83 to 11.22 per cent during the same period.

India has witnessed the second-driest pre-monsoon season in the last 65 years. The country received 99 millimeters (mm) rainfall between March and May — with 23 per cent below the normal rainfall during this time of the year —, showed the latest data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The deficit is prevalent across the country with south India having a deficit of 47 per cent, followed by northwest India (30 per cent), central India (18 per cent), and east and northeast (14 per cent).

The month of June, which accounts for 18 per cent of rain, may end up with a deficit of 40 per cent in at least 66 districts across the country, warned Skymet Weather, a private weather forecasting agency.

The low rainfall would be difficult to make up for the deficit in coming months, it noted.

According to the IMD, there is also a possibility of weaker monsoon in July. It could be a great cause of worry, as the month is crucial and receives one third of the total monsoon rains in the country. 

The sluggish pace of the south west monsoon has compounded the severe dry spell. As a result, at least 30 sub-divisions are likely to experience ‘deficient’ and ‘largely deficient’ monsoon season, the IMD said.

Most of these are in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and the north eastern states. Only four sub-divisions in Karnataka, Gujarat, and Lakshadweep have witnessed ‘normal’ rainfall.

Low rainfall has also contributed to a downward trend in water levels in at least 71 of 91 reservoirs across India, a recent bulletin by the Central Water Commission (CWC), has showed.

The situation is particularly grim in the north-western region — in Gujarat and Maharashtra — and in the southern states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, it said.

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