Monsoon withdraws, but several states still under drought

The situation in these parched regions may get worse in coming months with no more rainfall

By Shagun Kapil
Last Updated: Friday 11 October 2019
At least 21.91 per cent of India is under different degrees of drought. Photo: Getty Images

Monsoon has started retreating but many states are still under drought. These states include Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The situation in these parched regions may get worse in coming months with no more rainfall.

At least 21.91 per cent of India is under different degrees of drought, according to data released by Drought Early Warning System, a drought monitoring platform, on October 3, 2019. Of this, 8.53 per cent area is witnessing severe, extreme or exceptionally dry conditions, it added.

“It is problematic that these areas are under drought even after monsoon. It will be difficult for these regions to cope up with increasing water demand in the coming months in the absence of monsoon,” said Vimal Mishra, associate professor, civil engineering, Indian institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, and one of the scientists managing the drought monitoring system.

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), the monsoon has been above normal this year. Between June 1 and September 30, India got 10 per cent excess rainfall, showed IMD data.

“Despite monsoon being normal, we may see drought in the upcoming dry season. One of the foremost reasons is that most of the rainfall occurred during extreme events,” said Mishra.

“It caused flooding, which does not necessarily help in groundwater recharge. And as temperatures go up, water demands will increase. We have limited storage and increasing demands,” he added.

Even after more rainfall during monsoon, some areas may be under drought as they either didn’t experience a good monsoon or have significantly depleted groundwater, he added.

Owing to excess rainfall, the live water storage in India’s 120 reservoirs rose to 151.9 BCM (billion cubic metre), 89 per cent of total live storage capacity, according to Central Water Commission (CWC) bulletin released on October 10, 2019.

The situation is grim in reservoirs of Nagaland, Tripura, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which are already observing dry conditions. While reservoirs in Nagaland and Tripura have less than normal storage, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal have only marginal surplus storage at 6, 17, 10, and 18 per cent respectively.

"Reservoir storage has improved, but how long will it last or how much area this storage covers for irrigation are the questions. Groundwater, which is depleting, is still the main source of irrigation,” he said.  

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