UPSC IAS Exam : Drought in India

Indian Economy is very much depends on the interaction of Monsoon and Drought. Each year Monsoon and its predictions are done and strategies are suggested to mitigate the drought in India. Here are the comprehensive approach to understand the drought in India

Created On: Jun 21, 2016 12:16 IST

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Droughts are outcome of variability of climate. Though drought causes little structural damage and has slow onset, it is considered as natural hazard. Drought in India is related to both scarcity of rainfall and water resource management.

Definition: IMD defines Drought as situation occurring in any area when mean annual rainfall is less than 75% of the normal rainfall.

Categories of Drought

Drought can be classified into three types according to National commission on agriculture in India. They are agricultural, hydrological and meteorological drought.

1.Meteorological drought:  a condition when  there is substantial decrease from usual precipitation over an area.

2.Hydrological drought:  a condition when there is depletion of subsurface and surface water resources due to prolonged meteorological drought.

3.Agricultural drought: a condition when rainfall and soil moisture is deficient to support healthy growth of crop.

Based on the onset of monsoon, drought is also categorised as early season, mid season and late season drought.

Drought is not only confined to regions with deficient rainfall, it is also prevalent in regions of high rainfall. Himalayan regions are also prone to conditions of water scarcity. Worst drought in India was experienced in 2002. Probability of drought in India varies from region to region. Western Rajasthan experiences drought once in 2 years and Once in 15 years in Assam.

Distribution of drought in India

The distribution of drought in India can be classified under three heads

1. Conditions of extreme drought: It includes 12% of total drought prone areas i.e  Gujarat, western Uttar Pradesh, north-west Madhya Pradesh, western Rajasthan.

2. Conditions of severe drought: It covers 42% of total drought prone area i.e leeward side of Maidan plateau, Rayalaseema and Telengana regions of Andhra Pradesh and Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra.

3. Conditions of moderate drought: It prevails over 46% of total drought prone area i.e  Orissa, central-north Madhya Pradesh, Chhotanagpur, Jammu and Kashmir and central- east Tamil Nadu.

Irrigation facilities and drought:

India's irrigation is substantially groundwater and well based. Ground water contributes to 80-90% of water requirement and 50% of irrigation requirement.

In 2011

•    Total cropped area                        – 159.6 million hectares
•    Ground water equipped crop area     – 39.43 million hectares
•    Canal irrigation equipped crop area   – 22.48 million hectares
•    Total crop area actually irrigated      - 58.43 million hectares

Ground water and drought

Rain water is the significant source of recharge for surface and ground water in drought prone areas. Area of concern related to groundwater in drought prone area is

  • less exploitation of groundwater for irrigation
  • high concentration of salts in the groundwater and soil profile
  • fluorides and nitrates concentration in water
  • reduced availability of drinking water for animals ponds, lakes etc.

Measures :

  • following drip and sprinkler practices
  • Recharging ground water by watershed construction

Cropping pattern and Drought

Continued drought reduces water table and lowers soil moisture and decreases out plant cover. Drought increases soil temperature and decreases its humidity. Crop diversification and modification  of cultivated crops is a conventional adaptation measure  to curtail the risk of crop failure due to drought. The following startegies are suitable in drought prone area:

  • Crops that are drought resistant and require minimal irrigation
  • Crops that  exploit residual moisture from earlier cultivation,
  • food crops for household food security,
  • Crops that are  marketable with high value
  • Legumes that upgrade soils fertility and infiltration rate.

Drought and Social life in India

Drought impacts social life both positively and negatively.

  • Migration to urban areas
  • Disruption of life and human suffering
  • Inter regional and inter social group frictions due to movement of people and animals
  • Ethinic discrimination
  • Transhumance of herders

Drought and Inflation

Drought is inegalitarian in its incidence. It affects farmers and animal raising people to large extent than any other socio economic groups. Droughts leads to increase in cost of food products and farm products which directly depend on water resources to large extent. In turn droughts causes increase in wage rates of skilled and educated. It widens differences in income and wealth.

Strategies to overcome drought

  • Periodical review of water shortage
  • Individual state specific drought proofing measures to be devised
  • Crop diversification, farm ponds construction, adoption of microirrigation
  • Promotion of water storage, conservation and rejuvenation
  • Incentivise solar pumps for irrigation
  • Harvesting rain water, recharging ground water, desiltation of irrigation tanks
  • Check dams maintenece, prevention of leakage and pilferation of water from distribution network
  • Reviving traditional and historical step wells
  • Availing crop advisories to farmer through mobile app in their language
  • Locating ground water resources using satellite technology and remote sensing
  • Compulsory rain water harvesting in urban areas
  • Promotion of alternate livelihood like dairy, poultry, beekeeping. Timber farming and floriculture
  • Crop Insurance against drought

Drought Mitigation schemes of GOI

India has managed droughts through measures like Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP), Desert Development Programme (DDP), Integrated  watershed Development Programme (IWDP) and the National Watershed Development programme for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) etc. The Integrated Watershed Management Programme  (IWMP) is a comprehensive program which brings under it
DDP, DPAP and IWDP together.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana: is introduced so that more land is irrigated and ensure water supply to farmers round the year. Read in Detail

Krishi Amdani Beema Yojana: is introduced so that farmers don’t bear any financial burden if their produce gets destroyed due to unexpected weather or for any reason.

Soil health card scheme: to determine current status of soil health and to determine changes in soil health and recommend nutrients for farms to improve productivity.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana :  The Central Government has approved a cheaper crop insurance scheme named Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) on 13th January 2016. The government’s move came in an attempt to check the problem of rising cases of suicide by the farmers.    Read More in Detail

Central water commission and central ground water board to monitor hydrological data, water storage and ground water level.

Strategies of state governments:

Maharastra model:

  • Emphasis on promoting horticulture and floriculture under controlled water and temperature technology
  • Cultivation of beetel leaves, Jerbera flowers, Turdal, oil seeds and biodiesel plants.

Gujarat model:

  • The newly inaugurated Narmada-Mahi pipeline takes water to Ahmedabad and parts of Saurashtra
  • To reduce migration of people Government has provided works under EAS scheme. The revenue from profession tax goes towards EAS wages.
  • The administration has pressed into service water tankers, when water scarcity led to riots in major towns and cities.

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