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Govt studies forecast less water, lesser yield

delhi Updated: Aug 07, 2011 01:01 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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With India expected to be warmer than estimated earlier, a new set of government-sponsored studies have predicted lesser availability of water and decline in agriculture production on account of climate change.

The studies were done under the aegis of the Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA) to provide a holistic picture with an aim to push the government to form mitigation and adaptation policies.

Climate change impact on agriculture is the highlight of the studies to be published in Current Science on Monday with recorded fall in per acre production of wheat and rice.

It comes at a time when India is debating the proposed National Food Security law to ensure monthly food entitlement to 75% of population in

the rural India and 50% in the urban India.

A study by PK Aggarwal of the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IRAI) shows wheat production in 2004 fell by 4 million tonnes on account of an increase in temperature of one degree, resulting in faster maturing of the crop. A fall in production of mustard, peas, tomatoes, onion and garlic has also been reported on the basis of 22 years’ record of yield.

The future, with temperature expected to rise by another four degrees Celsius by the end of 21st century, would be bleak.

The Indo-Gangetic plains, the food bowl of India, will have the maximum impact with a decline in water sources. Western Ghats and the coastal belt are highly vulnerable areas, with estimates of a huge fall in production by 2030, the study says.

In another study, analysing monsoon data from 1901 to 2007, Krishna Kumar of Pune-based Indian Institute for Tropical Meteorology says the number of rainy days have reduced with increase in frequency and intensity of heavy rains.

The IITM study predicts that there would be 15% increase in summer monsoon precipitation by 2080, meaning lesser sunny days for crops to mature.

The study predicts increase in intensity of transmission of malaria from seven to nine months to 10-12 months in north-east and some regions of the Himalayan belt.

Every year 2.3 million people are affected by malaria and about a million from dengue.

Global warming has caused faster melting of glaciers as predicted by the Indian Space Research Organisation. AK Gosain of IIT-Delhi says because of this most of the rivers in India will see an increase in precipitation at the basin level till 2050, except Brahmaputra, Cauvery and Pennar.

The positive, however, is that India's rate of global warming was just 3.3% between 1994 and 2007, even though the economy had grown at an average of 6% during this period. "It is because most of the technologies adopted by us are less emission intense," a senior environment ministry official said.