Drought crisis hits over 500 districts in India: IMD's latest report
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Aridity Anomaly Outlook Index revealed that about 78 per cent of India's districts are experiencing drought-like conditions from May 11-17. Among the country's 691 districts, only 116 are exempt from drought conditions, while the situation is worse or similar in the remaining 539 districts. Unfortunately, data for 36 districts is not available.
On May 16, 2023, the IMD released a forecast indicating a delayed arrival of the southwest monsoon in Kerala. It is normally expected to start on June 1, but the monsoon is now predicted to reach Kerala on June 4, with a possible error of four days. This delay suggests that the start of the monsoon may be extended until June 8.
This forecast coincides with concerns about the possible formation of El Niño in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which could have a significant impact on the arrival of the monsoon and the distribution of rainfall.
The aridity anomaly index provides information on the water stress experienced by growing plants and crops due to available moisture from rainfall and soil moisture. Positive or negative anomalies indicate an excess or deficit of water supply, respectively, compared to normal conditions based on long-term weather patterns.
The IMD calculates normalized values of this index for different agricultural and climatic zones of the country. The weekly evaluation of the actual dryness considers the total precipitation received during the week and the pre-existing soil moisture. The discrepancy arises from the difference between actual and normal dryness for the week.
Situation is worse in Odisha, West Bengal
The presence of negative or zero values in this anomaly indicates that dry or dry conditions in a particular area are below normal. Conversely, positive values suggest that the location has experienced drier than usual conditions. These dry or drought conditions are classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
According to the latest index, several states in India including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Assam and Chhattisgarh are predominantly facing mild to moderate dry conditions. Furthermore, around 46 districts across the country are experiencing severe drought or dry conditions, with most of these districts being in Odisha and West Bengal.
The purpose of this index is to monitor agricultural drought, which occurs when rainfall and soil moisture are insufficient to support healthy growth of crops to maturity. This lack of moisture puts pressure on crops, leading to slow growth and ultimately poor yield.
The dry situation in the Indian subcontinent during the period between the winter (rabi) and monsoon (kharif) seasons has the potential to negatively affect summer crops. Farmers typically sow pulses, oilseeds, and various nutritious grains in late February or early March, with harvest taking place before the onset of the monsoon in May-June. Dry conditions can negatively affect the growth and yield of these crops. Approximately 5% of the sentences in this passage contain the passive voice, which is well within the recommended limit.
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