Why is drought looming over Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand?

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    In Context

    • In recent days, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are experiencing the worst monsoon season of the century.

    More about the news

    • Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have never experienced such poor monsoon rainfall in the last 122 years. 
    • Jharkhand:
      • Between June and August, the rainfall recorded over Jharkhand was 371.9mm against a normal of 627.6mm, a 41 percent seasonal deficit. 
      • This is the lowest ever rainfall recorded over Jharkhand (June to August) since 1901, according to the IMD’s rainfall. 
      • Only twice before in the last 122 years has Jharkhand experienced such poor rainfall.
    • Uttar Pradesh:
      • For Uttar Pradesh, too, the picture is grim, as the state has recorded only 251.7mm of the seasonal average of 449.1mm (June to August). 
    • UP is the most rain deficient Indian state this year and has remained so since the start of the monsoon season, like Jharkhand.

    Causes of the drought:

    • Low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal:
      • This season, only three low pressure systems developed in the Bay of Bengal, mostly off the coast of Odisha. 
      • None of these systems impacted Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. 
      • Thus, one of the two rain-bearing causes remained out of favour for these states.
    • The monsoon trough:
      • In addition, this year, the monsoon trough –
        • An east-west low-pressure area extending from the heat low over Pakistan to head Bay of Bengal.
      • remained to the south of its normal position for majority of the days in July and in August, so far.
      • How does it affect?
        • The monsoon trough’s location, oscillation, and duration over a specific location, all directly affect the rainfall activity over the regions exactly to the south of its position.
        • That is, when it is located to the south of its normal position, there is active or vigorous rainfall over most parts of central, peninsular India regions. 
        • When it shifts to the north of its normal position or lays along the Himalayan foothills, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the northeastern states benefit.
    • Such unfavorable conditions contributed to high rainfall deficits throughout the season.

    About Droughts

    • It is a normal, recurrent feature of climate and occurs in all climatic regimes and is usually characterized in terms of its spatial extension, intensity and duration.
      • It is difficult to provide a precise and universally accepted definition of drought due to its varying characteristics and impacts across different regions such as rainfall patterns, human response and resilience etc.
    • Drought Prone Areas:
      • In India, around 68% of the country is prone to drought to varying degrees.
      • The 35% of the area which receives rainfall between 750 mm and 1125 mm is considered drought-prone while 33% receiving less than 750 mm is chronically drought-prone.
    • Classification:
      • Meteorological Drought:
        • It is classified based on rainfall deficiency with respect to the long-term average, where 25% or less is normal, 26-50% is moderate and more than 50% is severe.
      • Hydrological Drought:
        • It is defined as deficiencies in surface and subsurface water supplies leading to a lack of water for normal and specific needs.
        • Such conditions arise even in times of average (or above average) precipitation when increased usage of water diminishes the reserves.
      • Agricultural Drought:
        • It is identified with soil moisture deficiency in relation to meteorological droughts and climatic factors and their impacts on agricultural production and economic profitability.

    Impacts

    • Drought causes economic, environmental and social impacts.
      • The first-round impacts on agriculture and water resources account for a significant proportion of drought impacts.
      • Others are follow-up impacts on the population immediately affected by droughts, such as farmer incomes and the health, nutrition, and education status of drought-affected populations.
      • A third level is on downstream activities, such as industries reliant on agriculture and water.
      • Finally, there are diffuse and longer-term impacts on growth, trade, foreign exchange, fiscal balance, and so on.
    • Crop Weather Watch Group (CWWG), an inter-Ministerial mechanism, evaluates information and data furnished by IMD and other scientific and technical bodies to determine the likely impact of meteorological events and other environmental parameters on agriculture.

    Way Ahead

    • Food and water scarcity are going to be the real issues in the country’s major rice producing states, with a potential to affect India’s kharif produce this year.
    • In UP, the Agriculture Meteorology division has advised carrying out the transplantation of rice and suggested the use of short-duration rice varieties
      • Experts have encouraged the cultivation of red gram.
      • Farmers are also recommended to opt for inter-cropping.
    • For farmers in Jharkhand, the Agri met has suggested adopting measures to conserve moisture in the soil. 
      • No sowing is advised until there is 50 to 60mm rainfall and sufficient moisture for at least three consecutive days. 
      • Short duration rice, millet, maize, and arhar must be considered for cultivation during the rest of the season.

    Source: IE