Even as large parts of India are facing drought, following deficit North West Monsoon, there is more bad news that farmers already know and experience. The rainfall in the three post monsoon months, from Oct 1 to Dec 31, 2018 at all India level has been 71.2 mm, which is 44% below normal rainfall of 127.2 mm. While the quantum of rainfall in these months is not expected to be high except in some South Indian areas, it is crucial for providing life saving and life sustaining moisture for the Rabi crop. It was particularly important since the second half of the South West monsoon was significantly below normal in large parts of Central and South India[i]. These same areas are experiences biggest deficits in Oct-Dec rains.
Central India facing double whammy Gujarat (just 0.7 mm rains, 98% below normal rains the state also had 22% deficit during NW Monsoon, Saurashtra and Kutch had even higher 34% deficit and the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam is filled upto even lower level than that last year), Daman-Diu-Dadar-Nagar Haveli (3.2 mm, -94%), Madhya Pradesh (4.6 mm, -92%) and Maharashtra (26.8 mm, -74%) are facing LARGE DEFICITS in Oct-Dec rains. Chhattisgarh (35.7 mm, -54%) and Goa (113.9 mm, -43%) are in DEFICIENT rainfall class. These regions were already facing drought situation and are now facing more deficits. For most rain-fed farmers in these regions, while Kharif crop was bad, rabi also brings bad news, with impending summer creating nightmares already. Some observers are already calling the Maharashtra situation this year worse than the 1972 drought, the worse drought state faced till date.
Within Maharashtra, Vidarbha received just 10 mm rain, 88% below normal and Marathwada received just 16 mm, 84% below normal. Marathwada also experienced 22% rainfall deficit in South West Monsoon.
Odisha, wrongly included in Central India (It should be in East India), is one of the only two states that have had EXCESS rains in these months, Andaman & Nicobar Islands being the other one, both having 23% above normal rainfall.
North West India Seven out of nine states in this region are facing LARGE DEFICIT (deficit over 59%) in Oct-Dec 2018 rains, deficit ranging from 94% for Uttar Pradesh (within UP, East UP had 99% deficit) and 93% for Rajasthan to 62% for Chandigarh. Only states that are slightly better off include Himachal Pradesh with 56.5 mm rainfall, 48% below normal rainfall of 108.2 mm. Jammu & Kashmir had the best rainfall quantitatively, 128.6 mm, just 2% below normal rains in this post monsoon season.
East and North East India Bihar (-72%) and Manipur (-61%) are in Large Deficient category among the 11 states in this region in IMD scheme. It may be recalled that Manipur also had the highest (54%) deficit among all states of India in North West India. Bihar too had a huge 25% rainfall deficit during June-Sept main rainfall season. All the remaining nine states are in deficient category with deficit ranging from 50% in Arunachal Pradesh to the least of 33% in Sikkim. Sikkim had the highest rainfall of 198.1 mm in this region.
South India North East monsoon, as the rainfall during Oct-Dec is called in this region, brings more rainfall here than any other region of India. During Oct-Dec 2018, Telangana is the only among eight states and Union Territories in this region that was in LARGE DEFICIENT category with rainfall of 41.7 mm being 65% below normal. Andhra Pradesh (121.8 mm, -57%, within AP, Rayalseema suffered 62% rainfall deficit), Karnataka (99 mm, -47%, within Karnataka North Interior Karnataka, a lower rainfall and drought affected area, suffered 65% deficit, on top of 29% rainfall deficit in SW Monsoon) and Tamil Nadu (334.7 mm, -23%) were in Deficient category. Pondicherry (-18%), Lakshadweep (-14%) and Kerala (463 mm, -4%) were in Normal rainfall category, while Andaman & Nicobar Islands were in Excess rainfall category as mentioned earlier.
River Basin wise rainfall Only three river basins can be seen in Blue color (rainfall more than 20% above normal) in the river basin wise rainfall map of IMD: Brahmani-Baitarni (174.9 mm, +32%), Mahanadi (153.8 mm, +57%) and Subarnarekha (204.1 mm, +91%). A bit strangely, Damodar basin, adjoining these basins, has huge 39% deficit rainfall!
Four more river basins are in green color, meaning rainfall here is within 19% on either (surplus or deficit) side of normal rainfall, but Vamsadhara basin, just south of Mahanadi basin is the only one having surplus (+19%) rainfall.
District wise rainfall IMD has reported that NO RAIN has been recorded during Oct-Dec 2018 in 129 district. In addition, IMD has NO DATA for 13 districts, including one district of DELHI, 3 of J&K and 9 of North East India. Among No Rain Districts, there are 47 districts of Uttar Pradesh, 22 of Gujarat, 20 of Madhya Pradesh and 18 of Rajasthan. Only three districts of Maharashtra and none of Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh are included in No Rain districts, as one gets an idea from following maps.
In Conclusion The most important point to note here is that this is another warning that coming summer may bring quite bad, in fact unprecedented water crisis in some areas. The areas to watch out for include: Marathwada and Vidarbha in Maharashtra, North Interior Karnataka, Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand.
- If our groundwater was properly recharged and regulated, it could have helped in such hour of crisis. But we are still not doing anything effective as the Dec 12, 2018 CGWA notification shows[ii].
- Here avoiding sugarcane in Drought prone areas of Maharashtra would help in a big way. We have been doing nothing to reverse this trend. On the contrary, as the record sugar production this year shows, the trend may be in the reverse direction.
- Incidentally, even in this unprecedented drought situation, Koyna and Tata dams continues to divert water from drought prone Krishna and Bhima basins to high rainfall Konkan area. Here is another opportunity to ensure that this does not happen at least in drought years[iii].
- Lastly, considering that such anomalies are going to visit us with increasing frequency and intensity, we need to also work towards improving the capacity of our soils to hold moisture by increasing carbon content. Here again no effort is happening at policy or programs level. In fact, there seems no conviction that this needs to be done.
[iii] https://sandrp.in/2013/02/05/maharashtras-desperate-drought-needs-some-desperate-measures-stop-westward-diversion-of-water-by-tata-and-koyna-dams-immediately/, https://sandrp.in/2015/08/20/open-letter-to-tata-sustainability-group-to-stop-westward-diversion-of-bhima-basin-water-by-tata-hydro-projects/, https://sandrp.in/2016/05/16/letter-to-pm-devise-a-policy-for-curbing-hydropower-water-diversions-during-drought-years/, https://sandrp.in/2017/05/01/stop-diversion-of-water-from-drought-hit-krishna-basin/