High-alert called for drought in West, Southern states after pre-monsoon rains fail

The Western and Southern of India are facing an unusually dry summer, with the rains that usually come down in March and May reduced to a drizzle. The pre-monsoon showers have been at an all-time low this year, according to multiple weather agencies.

Two-thirds of the country’s rains have been either deficient or highly deficient. The country has now been put on drought-alert by forecasters.

Among Western states, Gujarat and Maharashtra were the most affected, followed by the southern peninsula and then northern parts of Uttar Pradesh. This has been the second-driest pre-monsoon season in the last 65 years, after the record lowest in 2012, when the cumulative rainfall amounted to only 31 percent of expected, according to a Skymet report.

 High-alert called for drought in West, Southern states after pre-monsoon rains fail

While plenty of the world saw flooding in 2017, equally plenty of places experienced extreme drought. Image: Piyaset

While monsoon rains are the main source of freshwater in many states, summer rains ensure that the soil is moist for agriculture in time for pre-monsoon sowing. The lack of rains leaves reservoirs at an all-time low. While the Indian Meteorological Department has predicted a normal monsoon this season, it does appear the rainfall itself will be slightly-delayed. Rainfall will is expected to make landfall by 6 June instead of the earlier predicted date of 1 June.

According to NITI Aayog, a government think-tank, India is going through the worst water crisis in its history. By 2020, 21 cities are expected to run out of groundwater resources. By 2030, the demand for water in the country will be twice as much as the available supply. This will result in water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people, according to the report.

A typical Saturday market in Aizawl. Image Courtesy: Ezrela Dalidia Fanai/101Reporters

A typical Saturday market in Aizawl. Image Courtesy: Ezrela Dalidia Fanai/101Reporters

The food security of the country faces significant risk as some of the most water-scarce states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Haryana – account for 20-30 percent of India’s agriculture output. They are also home to over 600 million people, according to an IndiaSpend report.

There is a serious need for water conservation efforts nationwide. Solutions like rainwater harvesting, catchment areas and building of dams need implementation, so that the oncoming water crisis can be mitigated, at least partially if not completely avoided.

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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2019 11:23:22 IST