Bihar’s rainfall deficit stands at 40% as trend could impact planting season

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Bihar is facing drought situation due to lack of rain in the state. There is nearly 55% rainfall deficit in South Bihar and nearly 40% overall since 1 June.

35 out of 38 districts also recorded below normal rainfall.

In July, the rainfall deficit reached almost 90% and this trend could have serious repercussions on agriculture during the crucial planting season, even if farmers are still hoping for good rains.

Agriculture Department Principal Secretary N Sarvana Kumar said further delay in the rains could worsen the situation.

“Right now, everyone is hoping for rain. In the Magadh region, the situation is precarious. However, paddy planting is late in South Bihar and farmers are hoping for rain. The problem this year was the lack of rain before the monsoon and later the bad monsoon, which led to a lack of moisture in the soil. The government is closely monitoring the situation and will take the necessary measures if the rains continue to escape,” he added.

Read also: Monsoon arrives in Bihar, but heat wave hits seven districts

Naturally, the water resources department has now focused on flood protection to ensure the availability of water in the canals for irrigation purposes, as agriculture is suffering the most. Only three districts – Kishanganj, Araria and Nepal – recorded barely normal rainfall.

Last week, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the government is monitoring the monsoon and will start taking action in view of the emerging drought situation, if rains continue to elude Bihar.

“The rainfall situation is not good in the state and we have started preparing for the drought situation. Our main objective is to ensure the availability of water for the farms. However, the poor condition of major rivers due to lack of adequate water is a challenge. Last week I reviewed the updated status of water situation in canals and dams as water is important during the planting season,” said WRD Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha.

The minister said he also asked the union jal shakti minister, Swatantra Dev Singh, to release his water quota from the Rhiand dam.

“Bihar does not get enough water from Rhiand, which has a negative impact on the Sone canal system. It has very little water. The union minister assured to look into the issue, ”he added.

What makes things difficult for Bihar is the relatively dry period, even in the lowlands of the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, which normally takes its toll due to downpours and floods in the Kosi regions every monsoon, even without adequate rain in Bihar.

“The big rivers are facing a lack of water. Only one river is flowing above the dangerous level this year, whereas normally 15 to 20 rivers have reached the red mark in the state at this point in previous years. What is worrying is that the rivers are showing a downward trend,” he added.

A WRD official said the lack of rain in Nepal this time is also causing water scarcity in major rivers like Bagmati, Budhi Gandak, Kamla Balan, Adhwara group of rivers among others.

“Except Kosi, all the rivers flow well below the red mark. If the big rivers face water scarcity, it has a direct impact on the smaller ones and their tributaries. The dams of Birpur, Valmikinagar and Indrapuri also have a lot less water than is needed. We are crossing our fingers, but at the same time we have started to work for any eventuality. The CM itself is monitoring the situation on a daily basis. The CM had also looked into the preparedness of the ministry. It was under his leadership that in 2016 flood protection and increased irrigation potential were separated for efficient management and optimal use of water resources in the state,” he added.

The minister said that the determination of Nitish Kumar’s government to provide water to every farm was to deal with such eventualities. ‘Efforts are underway and officers have been asked to carry out a spot inspection to secure water to the end of the canals. The target for the Kharif season this year is to increase irrigation to 21.58 lakh hectares,” he added.

Girindranath, a farmer from Purnea, said the paddy crop was the most affected due to very poor rainfall. “Many farmers have not planted paddy yet, waiting for the rains. Those who have already done so pay money for irrigation. Electricity has yet to reach all farms and expensive diesel is proving to be a double whammy for farmers. They have no choice but to look up to the sky and pray for rain,” he added.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Kumar is Deputy Editor of the Hindustan Times. He has spent two and a half decades covering Bihar, including political, educational and social issues.
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