India facing one of its worst dry spells in recent times, reports Down to Earth

September 14, 2015

44 per cent of India’s districts are facing rain deficit

NEW DLEHI, September 12: India is in reeling under the impact of one of its worst dry spells in recent times. A series of reports by Down to Earth show the impact and the gravity of problem.

According to an assessment made by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), 283 districts out of the total 640 in the country currently fall in the rain-deficient category, which is over 40 per cent. These districts have witnessed a seasonal rainfall deficit between -20 per cent and -90 per cent.

In nine out of past 15 years, about 100 districts of the country have witnessed a drought like-situation, triggered by failure of south-west monsoon. This frequency is now increasing in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, among a few other states.

Four out of nine droughts in the last 15 years were severe droughts that jeopardised country’s food security. This year, the situation is comparatively grim as those states that produce about two-third of country’s foodgrain are severely impacted and may lead to a food crisis.

Alarmingly vulnerable states 

The frequency of droughts reflected in state data has left experts clueless. According to the drought management division of agriculture ministry, Assam will get a drought-like situation once in 15 years. The trend, however, shows that the state witnessed three droughts (including this year) in last nine years.

Though vulnerability for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is once in a five years, the state has faced three drought-like situations in last five years and Uttar Pradesh has faced two.

Can it get worse? 

In 2000 and 2001, 168 and 115 districts were affected by drought respectively, followed by a severe drought in 2002 that impacted 383 districts of the country. Next two years also saw deficient rainfall. In 2003 and 2004, the number of districts affected by drought was 118 and 223 respectively.

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For further information, please contact Anupam Srivastava, asrivastava@cseindia.org; 99100 93893 or Richard Mahapatra, richard@cseindia.org, 9811054063.