The weathermen have predicted 93% rainfall this monsoon, but the Maharashtra government is not taking any chances. The disaster management department has floated tenders for cloud seeding, which will be processed and kept ready if the monsoon fails.
Cloud seeding is a process that uses chemicals to stimulate clouds and induce rainfall.
“It is a contingency plan that we need to prepare for. There are predictions of 93% long period average (LPA) rainfall. But there is also a possibility of long dry spells as a fall out of the El Nino weather pattern. We need to prepare for that considering many districts are already facing severe water scarcity,” said Sridutta Kamat, state project officer at the state disaster management unit (DMU).
El Nino is a weather anomaly responsible for deficient rainfall and drought situations globally and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.
Kamat said the DMU will wait till the monsoon sets in completely, and it is only when the possibility of a normal monsoon is ruled out that the call on cloud seeding will be taken.
“So we will let the monsoon set in, which means let the whole of June pass. Then, if there is deficient rain, we will consult the IMD and take a decision to go ahead with the seeding in certain areas,” he said. The tender, which was floated last month, will be awarded to a company soon.
In 2014, the total rainfall in Maharashtra was 70.2% where of the 355 talukas in the state, 226 talukas received deficit rainfall. Through 2015, farmers have been facing an agriculture crisis that began with a long-standing drought, then hailstorm and unseasonal rains. This has hit the production of rabi crops and kharif crops by 27% points. It has been predicted this will lead to a total food grain production fall from 145.74 metric tonnes to 100 lakh metric tonnes —down by 31% points.