India to experience an extremely dry summer this year
With the latest meteorological department data showing mild to extremely dry conditions in 404 districts in India, peak summer months could precipitate a water crisis in several parts of the country. More worrying is the fact that MET department data shows sustained dry conditions in hundreds of districts since June last year. Here's more on it.
The IMD's district data, broken down in numbers
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) analysed conditions in 588 districts across India and termed 140 districts as severely to extremely dry in the October 2017 - March 2018 period. 109 districts were found to be moderately dry, while 156 districts had mildly dry conditions. In the January-March 2018 period, the IMD put 153 districts in the severely to extremely dry category.
India saw a 63% rainfall deficit in Jan, Feb 2018
When rainfall since June 2017 is considered - which includes 2017 monsoon months - IMD data shows disturbing trends. The IMD's standardized precipitation index (SPI) showed mild to extremely dry conditions in 368 districts, thus indicating sustained periods of dry conditions for almost a year. India's 63% rainfall deficit during January and February 2018 further compounds the problem.
Data reveals worrying stats about reservoirs in India
Latest government data shows that 91 major reservoirs across India are running, on an average, at 25% capacity. This figure is 16% lower than in the corresponding period last year, and 10% lower than the 10-year-average.
North, Central, West India bear brunt of rainfall deficit
Most of the worst affected districts lie in North, Central, and West India, along with some places in the East like Jharkhand and Bihar. In North India, the rainfall deficit is particularly pronounced in states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan. In January-February 2018, the region saw a worrying 67% deficit in rainfall.
Water shortages have already begun to show
Punjab, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, UP, MP, Chhattisgarh and Telangana were named as states with lower water levels corresponding to the same period last year. Additionally, the US-based World Resources Institute has named India among countries facing acute water shortages. Shortages have already begun to show - last month, the Gujarat government stopped irrigation water supply owing to low levels in the Sardar Sarovar dam.