New Delhi: The water crisis in several parts of the country is racing with the mercury. The latest meteorological department data revealed that 404 districts in India may face extremely dry conditions in the summer months ahead.
Of these, around 140 districts were termed severely to extremely dry in the October 2017-March 2018 period. Another 109 districts were moderately dry while 156 had mild dry conditions.
The January to March rainfall left 153 districts across the country in the severe to extremely dry category. The IMD data evaluated 588 districts in total.
Taking into consideration the rainfall of June last year, which includes the 2017 monsoon months — IMD’s standardised precipitation index (SPI) shows 368 districts under mild to extremely dry conditions. This indicates sustained dry conditions in many districts.
SPI is accepted worldwide as an accurate measure of rainfall distribution and is a widely used measure for determining meteorological drought. It uses a scale from +2 to -2, where two and above denotes extreme wetness while minus two or less shows extreme dry conditions, with values in between depicting the range of other conditions, from severely wet to severely dry.
While every year many parts of the country face water shortages during summers, what has worsened the situation this year is the very poor winter rainfall. IMD data reveals a 63% rain deficit across India during January and February. The shortfall from March to April 11 stands at 31%.
SPI data from January to March reflects this, showing as many as 472 districts facing mild to extreme dryness, with 153 districts in the severe to extreme dry category. Most of the dry districts are in north, central and west India, as well as some places in the east such as Bihar and Jharkhand. The rainfall deficit is particularly large in northwest India, which includes the three hill states, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The region received 10% less rainfall during the last monsoon season. The later months were worse, with shortfalls of over 54% in October-December and 67% in January-February.
Punjab, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana are reported to have low groundwater levels than the corresponding years.