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A parched India doesn’t need more bad news

The pre-monsoon rainfall has been poor. The monsoon, hopefully, won’t disappoint

editorials Updated: Jun 05, 2019 18:58 IST
Hindustan Times
Will the pre-monsoon delays have any impact on the monsoon? We don’t know yet. According to the India Meteorological Department, the monsoon may hit Kerala’s coast only by June 8 as opposed to the earlier prediction of June 6. A parched India does not need any more bad news. (VIVEK NAIR/HT PHOTO)

Pre-monsoon rainfall in India this year is the second lowest in 65 years, private weather forecaster Skymet Weather said on Monday. The three-month pre-monsoon season — March, April and May — ended with a rainfall deficiency of 25%. All the four meteorological divisions — Northwest India, Central India, East-Northeast India and South Peninsula — recorded a deficit in rainfall of 30%, 18%, 14% and 47% respectively.

This is not good news for India. Many parts of the country are suffering from a scorching summer (in the past 48 hours, 10 Indian cities featured among the top 15 hottest places on the planet), and many regions are also facing severe drought.

A robust pre-monsoon could have made the summer bearable, filled up reservoirs (just 20% water was left in 91 major reservoirs, said the Central Water Commission on June 2), replenished the soil moisture and helped the agrarian sector.

In states such as Odisha, ploughing is done in the pre-monsoon season and in parts of northeast India and the Western Ghats, it is critical for the planting of crops. In forested regions of the Himalayas, pre-monsoon rainfall is necessary for apple plantation and minimising forest fires.

The Forest Survey of India’s large forest fires monitoring programme data (May 10) showed that there were 192 large, active fires in the country. This figure was at 30 between May 3 and May 10. The main reason for the spike in these large fire incidences is an increase in temperature and a deficit in rainfall, Uttarakhand chief conservator of forest (forest fire and disaster management), PK Singh, told Down to Earth.

Rise in global temperatures, which is affecting rainfall patterns, has a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged and vulnerable people through food insecurity, higher food prices, income losses, lost livelihood opportunities, adverse health impacts, and population displacements (Beed in Maharashtra is a case in point).

It can also upset many major government programmes. For example, how will the government double farmers’ income by 2022 in such circumstances?

Will the pre-monsoon delays have any impact on the monsoon? We don’t know yet. According to the India Meteorological Department, the monsoon may hit Kerala’s coast only by June 8 as opposed to the earlier prediction of June 6.

A parched India does not need any more bad news.

First Published: Jun 05, 2019 18:49 IST