Monsoon hits cultivation hard

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Jul 15 | Updated: Jul 17 2007, 01:02am hrs
Heavy downpour and floods in some parts of the country have led to loss of life and property, including standing crops and farm animals.

According to the recent reports received by the national disaster management division (NDMD) in the Union home ministry, about 12,838 villages in 135 districts of the country have been severely affected.

The situation has caused a loss of 57,046 farm animals and about 1702553.58 hectare of cropped area have been submerged. The total loss to crops, households and public property is estimated at Rs 2,44,25.85 lakh. While death of 856 persons have been recorded, the number of affected population is estimated at 105,26,956.

According to NDMD relief and rescue operations were undertaken in Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh,

Assam, Gujarat, Orissa, Rajasthan, West Bengal and in some other parts of the country. The causes of floods are due to heavy downpour at places and rise in river basins due to excess water flow from upper riparian regions.

The official weather forecasting agency, IMD has reported 18% more rainfall over the country in the first one and half month of the monsoon season. According to IMD the average cumulative rainfall over the country has been 310.8 mm as against the normal of 262.6 mm in the period. About 41% of 533 meteorological districts received excess rainfall, while 30% received normal rains. Only 22% districts received deficient rainfall and 7% districts received scanty rains. Out of 36 meteorological subdivisions, 19 received excess rainfall, while 10 received normal rains. Only 7 meteorological subdivisions which received deficient rainfall in the period are in a contiguous zoneArunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya, Sikkim and north Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, eastern UP and eastern MP.

According to the Central Water Commission total water storage in 78 major reservoirs in different parts of the country by July 12, this year had increased to 60.211 billion cubic metre (BCM), representing 45% of the storage capacity at full reservoir level (FRL). In the corresponding period in the previous year water storage was only 34% of the capacity at FRL.

However, the area coverage under several summer crops is not impressive. According to reports available with the crop weather watch group in the Union agriculture ministry, area coverage under rice, cereals, sugarcane, jute, pulses and some oilseeds is lagging behind. Few crops which have recorded an increase in area coverage are jowar (millet), cotton, groundnut, soybean and castor.

According the Union agriculture ministry the delay in the progress of monsoon in several parts of the country in June considerably delayed the sowing operations and crops in some rainfed areas were under severe moisture stress due to intermittent dry spells. In some areas, there were cases of submergence of crops due to floods and heavy downpour. The ministry, however, hopes that the situation is likely to improve in the remaining months with balanced and equitable distribution of rainfall.