Bihar’s rainfall deficiency rises to 40% as trend could impact sowing season
In July, the rainfall deficiency has touched almost 90% and this trend could severely impact agriculture
Bihar is staring at a drought-like situation owing to the lack of rain in the state. There is almost 55% rain deficiency in south Bihar and nearly 40% overall so far since June 1.
35 of the 38 districts recorded less than normal rainfall too.
In July, the rainfall deficiency has touched almost 90% and this trend could severely impact agriculture in the crucial sowing season, though farmers are still hopeful of good rainfall.
Agriculture department principal secretary N Sarvana Kumar said that further delay in rain could make the situation serious.
“Right now, everyone is hoping for rain. In Magadh region, the situation is precarious. However, the sowing of paddy is done late in south Bihar and farmers are hoping for rain. The problem this year has been the lack of pre-monsoon rain and later poor monsoon, which resulted in lack of required moisture in soil. The government is closely monitoring the situation and will take necessary steps if rains continue to elude,” he added.
Understandably, the focus of the water resources department has now shifted from flood protection to ensuring water availability to canals for irrigation purposes, as agriculture suffers the most. Only three districts - Kishanganj, Araria and Nepal- have recorded barely normal rainfall.
Last week, chief minister Nitish Kumar said the government was keeping an eye on monsoon and would start taking steps in view of emerging drought situation, if rains continued to elude Bihar.
“The rainfall situation is not good in the state and we have started preparing for the drought situation. Our main focus is ensuring the availability of water to farms. However, the poor state of major rivers due to lack of adequate water is a challenge. Last week, I reviewed the updated status of water situation in the canals and barrages, as water is important in the sowing season,” said WRD minister Sanjay Kumar Jha.
The minister said he had also requested the union jal shakti minister Swatantra Dev Singh for release of its quota of water from Rhiand dam.
“Bihar has not got adequate water from Rhiand, which is having an adverse impact on the Sone canal system. It has very little water. The union minister has assured to look into the matter,” he added.
What is making it difficult for Bihar is the comparatively dry spell even in the lowland areas on the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, which normally wreak havoc due to deluge and inundation in the Kosi regions every monsoon even without adequate rain in Bihar.
“Big rivers are facing water deficiency. Just one river is flowing above the dangerous level this year, while normally 15-20 rivers touched the red mark in the state by this stage in previous years. The worrying part is that the rivers are showing a receding trend,” he added.
A WRD official said that lack of rain in Nepal this time is also causing water shortage in major rivers like Bagmati, Budhi Gandak, Kamla Balan, Adhwara group of rivers, among others.
“Except Kosi, all the rivers are flowing much below the red mark. If the big rivers face water shortage, it has a direct impact on the smaller ones and their tributaries. The barrages at Birpur, Valmikinagar and Indrapuri also have significantly less than adequate water. We are keeping our fingers crossed, but at the same time we have started working for any eventuality. The CM is himself monitoring the situation on a daily basis. The CM had also reviewed the department’s preparedness. It was following his direction that in 2016, flood protection and irrigation potential augmentation were separated for effective management for optimal utilisation water resources in the state,” he added.
The minister said that the Nitish Kumar government’s resolve for water to every farm was aimed at dealing with such eventualities. “Efforts are underway and officers have been asked to do spot inspection to ensure water till the tail end of canals. The target for Kharif season this year is to take irrigation to 21.58-lakh hectares,” he added.
Girindranath, a farmer in Purnea, said that paddy cultivation was the worst affected due to severely deficient rainfall. “Many farmers have not yet sowed paddy waiting for rain. Those who have already done it are coughing up money for irrigation. Electricity is yet to reach all farms and so costly diesel is proving to be double whammy for farmers. They have no option but to look heavenwards and pray for rain,” he added.