It’s raining bad news all over
It’s been a scorcher of a summer so far. And with the monsoon either playing truant or bringing little rain, the weather forecast is too sunny. HT Correspondent reports.india Updated: Jun 24, 2009 00:13 IST
Madhya Pradesh’s BJP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has participated in at least 10 som yagyas to propitiate the rain gods. Andhra Pradesh’s Congress Chief Minister Y. Rajasekhar Reddy has sent out instructions to all temples in his state to perform varuna japams and sahasra ghatabhishekams for exactly the same reason. As the monsoon continued to play truant and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed officials on Tuesday to monitor it daily, Hindustan Times takes a look at the ground situation in states across the country.
The Bhakra Nangal Dam authorities have bluntly informed the states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh that the dam may be closed if its water level continued to fall the way it has been doing lately — by two feet each day. All irrigation and power generation from the dam would come to a halt.
“The situation is precarious,” said U. C. Mishra, chairman of the Bhakra Beas Management Board. The inflow into the dam from the catchment area is one third of what it was at the same time last year. The water levels of other dams are also falling.
Rainfall has been 67 per cent short of what is expected in June. Protests, including road blockades, by farmers protesting lack of both power and water, have begun. “The government doesn’t give us water, nor do we get power to run our tubewells,” said Narinder Singh, a farmer of Darar village.
“The next week is crucial,” said R.K. Dewan, state’s engineer in chief.
The state’s famous apple crop has been hit, with production likely to fall by 30-35 per cent, which may even rise to 50 per cent if the dry spell persists.
The growing heat, due to lack of rain, is also causing frequent, devastating forest fires.
People are accustomed to droughts, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worried.
“Those who sowed early are regretting it,” said Rajpal Poonia, state president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union. With power supply restricted to just 4-5 hours a day, tubewells cannot be worked for long either.
All cash crops are likely to affected. Sugarcane and banana in the south, groundnut and cotton in Saurashtra. Power supply is already erratic. “We should have had one cycle of rain by now, but not a drop has fallen,” said Kayomon Khelawala, a farmer from Ankleswar in south Gujarat
Pre-monsoon showers were few, the monsoon has yet to arrive. The prolonged dry spell has damaged paddy seedlings, wherever they had been sown.
The state government’s decision to subsidise the diesel used to run pumpsets is the only silver lining. “It will be Rs 10 per litre,” said Renu Kumari, agriculture minister.
Sowing has yet to start in the areas solely dependent on rainfall. Even in irrigated areas, wells and canals are going dry.
The water level in the Hirakud Dam reservoir area is falling each day. Rice production in the region, the rice bowl of the state, is expected to fall considerably
At an average of 11,430 mm per year, Cherrapunjee and adjoining Mawsynram in Meghalaya receives the world’s highest rainfall. This monsoon, however, these ‘rain-magnets’ are nowhere near half that mark.
Northeast India has received just 46 per cent of the rain it should have done so far. Meghalaya is worst off, with a 76 per cent deficit.
The southwest monsoon comes earliest to Kerala, but this year it has been playing hide and seek since it broke late last month.
“The deficit is currently around 35 per cent,” said K. Santosh, director, Thiruvananthapuram Meteorological Centre.
The shortfall is already around 20-30 per cent. But the state government is taking no chances. A contingency plan, which includes cloud seeding to induce rain across 12 districts, has already been drawn up.
Water levels in all dams and reservoirs have fallen. Town-based reservoirs have already stopped supplying water for irrigation or power. The government is mulling strategies to engage farmers to grow crops other than paddy which will need less water.