30th September marks the end of June-September South West summer monsoon in India and Maharashtra. The 2015 summer monsoon has proved to be the worst monsoon in the last six years for India. Rainfall deficits are seen in all major food-producing regions like UP (47% deficit), Bihar (28% deficit), Punjab and Haryana (32% deficit). This is India’s second successive year of high rainfall deficit, and only the fourth time this has happened since 1901.
Monsoon retreats from the country and the states on various dates. Some welcome showers are falling and are further expected in Maharashtra in the coming weeks, but the summer monsoon figures are now set. According to meteorologist Akshay Deoras. “Rain counters are refreshed on 1st October and new count of post monsoon season or winter monsoon season will start now.”
First week of October calls for an analysis of the summer monsoon, its performance in June, July, August and September and the implications this holds for various sectors.
People of Maharashtra have heard about, seen and experienced the dismal monsoon of 2015. Marathwada fared the worst, and was number one deficit state in the country at 52% deficit for a long time. However, at the end of monsoon, deficit of Marathwada is 40%. This is more worrisome as it comes piggybacking the 42% rainfall deficit in Marathwada in 2014, with rainfall of just 398.8 mm.
But, in order to understand the situation better, if one tries to analyse rainfall figures from various reputed official sources, one is taken aback by the disparities. We looked at official Indian Meteorological Department[i] figures, official Maharashtra Agriculture Department[ii] (Rainfall Recording and Analysis) figures and numbers from the 49th Cabinet Committee Note of the Government of Maharashtra dated 30th September 2015 accessed by SANDRP[iii].
All are concerned with Monsoon rainfall from 1-6-2015 to 30-9-2015. All of these contain different figures!
Indian Meteorological Department: IMD generates its rainfall data for Maharashtra based on its approximately 878 rain gauging stations spread across the state[iv]. According to IMD, regions of Maharashtra fall in rainfall deficit this year of varying proportions. Konkan region shows deficit of 31% with 2914 mm rainfall, Madhya Maharashtra shows deficit of 33% with 488.1 mm rainfall, Vidarbha shows deficit of 11% with 848.2 mm rainfall, but the highest deficit is Marathwada at 40% with 412.4 mm rainfall.
5 Districts that have received 50% or less of the average rainfall include
Kolhapur (803.4mm, -54%)
Solapur (231.8 mm, -51%)
Beed (287.4 mm, -50%)
Latur (372 mm, -51%) and
Parbhani (344.9 mm, -54%)
The region-wise, month-wise rainfall in Maharashtra this monsoon, as per IMD figures was as per following table.
|Rainfall, mm||Konkan-Goa||Vidarbha||Madhya Maharashtra||Marathawada|
Where is Madhya Maharashtra? Incidentally, IMD classifies the country in various categories. Maharashtra includes Konkan, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha. Madhya Maharashtra includes Nashik and Pune Divisions of whopping 10 districts, from Nandurbar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nashik, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Solapur, Sangli and Kolhapur. This region is not uniform in any sense, neither rainfall-wise, nor geographically nor is it “Madhya (Central) Maharashtra”. Any assessment based on a Madhya Maharashtra is meaningless in a sense as it clubs Kolhapur, at the southern tip of Maharashtra whose normal rainfall is more than 1500 mm with Dhule at the northern end of the state whose normal rainfall is about 500 mm and includes areas of Tapi, Narmada, Krishna and Godavari basins. It is time IMD adds some rationale to its meteorological divisions in India.
Maharashtra Agriculture Department: Agriculture Department of GoM runs a very useful website: maharain.gov.in which displays detailed data from its Rainfall Recording and Analysis Department. It states: “The department of Agriculture, Maharashtra State initiated the project for recording daily rainfall in the state in year 1998. Initially rainfall data was recorded at tehsil level and subsequently same functionality was extended to circle level from 2013 as GoM has installed rain gauge at every circle. Circle officer sends daily rain data using mobile through SMS. In addition to SMS rain data can be entered directly on the web portal.”
Prima facie it appears that Agriculture Department may have a better spread in the over 40,000 villages in Maharashtra than IMD’s 878 rain gauging stations.According to Agriculture Department, of the 353 administrative blocks in the state (taluks):
- 65 bocks have received rainfall less than 50% rainfall (18.4% blocks). Most of these are concentrated in Solapur and Marathwada region.
- 174 blocks have received rainfall between 50-75% rainfall.
- Just 23 blocks have received 100% or above of normal, and these are concentrated in Vidarbha and Nandurbar, Northern Maharashtra.
Cabinet Note of Government of Maharashtra, 49th Meeting, 30th Sept 2015: It reports that state has received 678.5 mm rain of the avergae 1131 mm, that is 59.9% or 60% of the average. But as we saw above, IMD says its 732.5mm of average 1007.3 mm, 73% of the average. There is no explanation for such widely different figures in the cabinet note.
Agricultural experts like Nishinkant Bhalerao states that the 60% magic figure will make any drought aid difficult and that it masks the monthly disparities which very badly affected this season’s Kharif. For example, Marathwada received barely 14% of its July average rainfall, a mere 28 mm, but cumulatively mainly due to late Spetmeber rains, this anamoly is hidden.
According to the note:
- 13 districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Pune, Aurangabad, Buldana, Akola, Washim, Amravati, Wardha, Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia, Gadchiroli received between 76-100% average rainfall,
- 17 districts of Thane, Palghar, Raigad Ratnagiri, Sindhudurga, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Jalna, Beed, Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Hingoli, Yavatmal, Chandrapur eceived between 51-75% average rainfall and
- In 4 districts, rainfall has been less than 50%, these include Nashik, Solapur, Kolhapur and Parbhani.
- Strangely, IMD states Nashik received 729 mm rainfall till 30th Sept and has just 20% rainfall deficit but for the same period, Agriculture Department shows Nashik has received just 484.8 mm rainfall, and shows a rainfall deficit of about 52%! The difference between the two values is whopping 244.2 mm, more than entire seasonal rainfall of Solapur!!
- IMD note also includes Beed (just about here at -50%) and Latur (-51%) in less than 50% rain, these are not included in the cabinet note.
- Agriculture Department statistics includes Osmanabad in less 50% rainfall bracket, but it is not included in Cabinet Note
Cabinet note talks about 355 blocks, while Agri Dept considers 353 blocks and Government of India[v] considers 351 blocks in Maharashtra!
|Sr. No||Cabinet Note, 30th September 2015||Agricultural Department Government of Maharashtra, 1st October 2015|
|Blocks with less than 25% rainfall||1||1|
|Blocks with 26-50% rainfall||49||64|
|Blocks with 51-75% rainfall||171||174|
|100% or more||29||23|
While discrepancies in these sources is not the subject matter of this discussion, there is definitely a need to streamline and improve monsoon rainfall reporting. This is especially important at a time when policies, drought assistance, insurance payment to farmers and water allocation decisions are heavily dependent on rainfall figures. If we cannot get our rainfall figures right, it raises a lot of questions about our capacity to monitor and understand the most important weather event of the year, on which lives of over 50% of the population directly depend! There is a vast difference not only in observed rainfall, but also supposed normal rainfall figures, which skew up the percentages.
Below: Notable differences between IMD and State Govt Data
|District||IMD (mm)||State Agriculture (mm)||Difference in Actual Rainfall (mm)|
|Normal||Actual Rainfall||% of Normal||Normal||Actual Rainfall||% of Normal|
- Solapur gets less than 1972 rainfall: According to Agriculture Dept, Solapur has received low rainfall of barely 193.9 mm from June-Sept. This is on top of 25% rainfall deficit in 2014 monsoon. In the epic drought of 1972 also, Solapur received more than this at 224.9 mm rainfall.[vi] This year, Solapur has received less than half of the rainfall Rajasthan received! This also seems to be the lowest monsoon rainfall Solapur received since 1901!
- For two consecutive years, Parbhani has received less than 50% rainfall (326.9 mm this year). In fact it’s June –July August Rainfall this year is lowest in the century.
- The district which has shown the highest deficit is Kolhapur. As per Agriculture Department data, it has received just 634.8 mm rainfall, 35.8% of its normal average monsoon rainfall. Strangely, IMD shows 803.4 mm rainfall this monsoon for Kolhapur, which is 46% of normal. The difference of 168.6 mm is too huge to be ignored and needs to be explained.
- Reservoirs storages at Maharashtra state level are at 56% of live storage capacity right now. But this is again masking the regional disparities. Marathwada has just 15% storage and 9 months ahead before the next monsoon. Four of its reservoirs are at 0 Live Storage (Mazalgaon, Manjara, Nimn Terna, Nimn Dudhna). The biggest Dam Jayakwadi is at a mere 7% storage.
- Nashik division upstream of Marathwada also has relatively low storage at 59%.
- Pune is slightly better at 61%.
- Nagpur, Amravati and Konkan divisions are above 70%.
Some Contingency Planning steps:
- Even in this situation, westward diversion of water from drought-hit Bhima-Krishna basin to high rainfall Konkan region and down to sea by Koyna and Tata dams continues, with no attempt to stop this completely wasteful diversion in this dry season.
- No information is available in public domain about district-wise planning of available water resources till the commencement of next monsoon
- No strong decision has been taken by the government about restricting or regulating sugarcane crushing which will commence from 15th October and which will consume lakhs of liters of water in the most severely drought-affected parts of the state.
- No strong decision on limiting new area under sugarcane in Solapur and Marathwada regions, which will be planted after this harvesting and crushing season.
While IMD states that Maharashtra has received more than 70% average rainfall and State Government pegs it at around 60%, the reality is that water situation in Maharashtra especially Western Maharashtra, Nashik region and Marathwada is dismal. Erratic rainfall with long dry spell in July and August has affected Kharip crops, groundwater levels and surface water storages. There is a need to immediately work on a participatory contingency planning of the available water resources for the coming year.
This planning cannot happen in a closed door manner by the cabinet or group of ministers, but should include and respond to water users and farmers and should be built on the principles of equity and sustainability. MWRRA also needs to get into its act. The people of the state are waiting for such an initiatives from the government and MWRRA.
– Parineeta Dandekar, with inputs from Himanshu Thakkar
[iii] Shared by Shri. Nishikant Bhalerao, Editor of Adhunik Kisan