#NewsBytesExplainer: Why drought is looming over UP, Jharkhand and Bihar
According to the Indian Express, never in the last 122 years have Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar and Jharkhand witnessed such low monsoon rainfall. The administration is finalizing contingency plans as farmers in both states wait for a good spell to begin sowing. Food and water scarcity will be major issues in India's leading rice-producing states, potentially affecting India's Kharif crop this year.
- Between June 1 and August 12, Jharkhand received 371.9 mm of rain, 41% less than normal.
- In UP, the situation looks grim with the state receiving only 251.7 mm of seasonal estimate of 449 mm through August 12.
- Meanwhile, this could be the worst monsoon for Bihar, which has received 376.5 mm less than the average of 602.6 mm, a 38% deficit.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Jharkhand had its lowest ever recorded rainfall during June to August 2022 period since 1901. Only twice over the last 122 years has Jharkhand witnessed such low rainfall (less than 500 mm from June to August)—in 2010 (439mm) and 1993 (500 mm) (469.6 mm). In 2019, a smaller rainfall shortfall was reported with 593 mm of rainfall.
UP, like Jharkhand, is the most rain-scarce state this year and has been since the beginning of the monsoon season. UP's driest monsoon months (June to August) were in 1987 (349.3 mm), 1972 (424.3 mm), 1996 (392 mm), 2009 (365 mm), and 2014 (394.3 mm). Notably, the UP's reservoirs have filled 28% of their eight dams' storage capacity, which was 53% in 2021.
Bihar's monsoon in 2022 has been anything more than normal, in contrast to the typical overflowing Ganges and flooding. The monsoon of 2022 could be the worst in Bihar's history; only once before, in 1972, did the state receive 375 mm rainfal from June to August. Previously, these months experienced poor monsoon seasons in 1992. (588.7 mm), 2010 (466.6 mm) and 2012 (573.9 mm).
This year, just three low-pressure systems were formed in the Bay of Bengal as of now, the majority of which were located off the coast of Odisha. These systems had no effect on Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, or Bihar. "The low-pressure systems did not move along Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh," Climate Research Division head, Pulak Guhathakurta at IMD Pune, reportedly stated.
In UP, the Agriculture Meteorology Division (AMD) of the IMD has recommended that rice be transplanted until August 15 and that short-duration rice varieties be used. Red gram cultivation has been encouraged by experts. "We recommend farmers opt for inter-cropping....take up short-duration rice varieties," AMD's head, Kripan Ghosh, reportedly stated. Meanwhile, AMD recommended that farmers in Jharkhand take measures to conserve soil moisture.
Furthermore, no sowing is recommended in Jharkhand until there has been 50-60 mm of rainfall for at least three days. Short-duration rice, millet, maize, and arhar have been reportedly advised to farmers for cultivation. Overall, July was the driest month in East and Northeast India since 1903, with a 45% rain deficit. Manipur, Tripura, and West Bengal have been rain-deficient since the beginning.