Only half of usual summer foodgrain crop area sown so far
With the southwest monsoon running late, the country faces a 38% current rainfall deficit, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
The IMD said the country, as a whole, received 70.9 mm rainfall so far this monsoon season, whereas the long period average is 114.2 mm. This leaves a shortfall of 38%.
The rain deficit has depleted reservoirs, besides delaying sowing of summer foodgrain crops. Parts of central and peninsular India are staring at a drought for the second successive year.
Farmers’ groups are demanding that the government declare drought in affected areas without waiting till the end of the monsoon, so that relief measures can begin this month. “There must not be any delay in the declaration of drought. Instead of waiting for the end of the monsoon, drought must be declared in all those districts where sowing has been severely affected owing to 50% or greater deficit in June,” said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, a platform of over 200 farmers’ groups.
Out of 36 meteorological divisions, only six divisions have received normal rainfall or more. In terms of districts; 47% face large deficiencies (at least 60% below normal) or no rainfall at all. In total, almost 80% of districts face a rainfall deficit of at least 20% below normal. The Vidarbha region, with an 89% monsoon deficit, is worst affected. Regions like Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra are also facing drought-like situations, especially as they faced deficits in pre-monsoon rainfall as well.
According to the Central Water Commission (CWC), 80% of the country’s 91 major reservoirs have below-normal storage. In fact, 11 reservoirs have no water at all.