Climate Change

Surplus rainfall a respite, but now Bihar wary of floods

The state received 305.9 mm rainfall in June — 82% more than normal rainfall in June 2019 

 
By Mohd Imran Khan
Last Updated: Thursday 02 July 2020
Bihar received 82 per cent more than the normal rainfall in June 2020. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Bihar received 305.9 millimetres rainfall in June — 82 per cent more than normal (167.7 mm) in June last year — according to India Meteorological Department (IMD). Meteorologists termed this a “rare phenomenon in recent years”.

There is, however, a rider: The excess rainfall has created flood-like situations northern districts. Some major rivers have started flowing above the danger mark. Water level in other rivers has risen, threatening thousands of people living in low-lying areas.

At least 28 of the state’s 38 districts received large excess rain; seven districts recorded excess rain and three recorded normal rain in June, according to Sanjay Kumar, meteorologist at the Patna Meteorological Centre.

In June 2019, Bihar recorded only 91.6 mm rainfall — about 41 per cent less than normal.

“The monsoon rain this time is more than normal due to favourable conditions,” said Kumar. He added monsoon was still active in the state and is expected to grow stronger from July 3.

According to IMD’s annual rainfall reports, Bihar receives 1,027.6 mm rainfall in a normal monsoon year; the average annual rainfall through the year in all seasons is 1,205.6 mm.

Abdus Sattar, an agro-meteorologist at the Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University in Samastipur district, told Down To Earth that it was the first time in several years that June received almost double the normal rainfall.

This could be attributed to normal onset of monsoon in Bihar this year unlike the preceding 10 years and subsequent active phase of monsoon due to convergence of moisture and formation of depression, Sattar added.

Good rainfall has been a boon for kharif crops, preparation of nursery and subsequent transplantation of paddy. “Timely onset of monsoon and sustained rains due to favourable meteorological conditions are two main factors behind record rainfall,” said Sattar.

The rainfall took everybody by surprise, said Ujjawal Kumar, head of the division of socio-economics and extension at Indian Council of Agricultural Research Research Complex for Eastern Region, Patna.

“Earlier, monsoon would be delayed by a week or more. It would then be followed by poor rains. But it is active this time,” he added. He pointed that good rains have prompted timely sowing and seeding of paddy.

Paddy transplantation started in late-June this year; till 2019, farmers struggled to do the same in July and August.

Ujjawal pointed that the rainfall was bound to increase kharif and rabi crop production as well.

Bihar Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar said more than 75 per cent paddy sowing has been completed for the target of paddy cultivation in 33 lakh hectares this kharif season. Similarly, more than 50 per cent maize sowing has been completed in 4.5 lakh hectares so far.

With more rains expected in coming days, fear of floods has people in Koshi and Seemanchal regions worried.

“Water level in most rivers is rising and heavier rains may result in the inundation of low-lying areas. Government agencies are alert and taking all precautionary measures. District officials have been instructed to keep vigil on embankments,” a state disaster management department official said.

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