Kerala will not hestiate to try cloud-seeding to counter state’s worst drought in 115 years, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the Assembly on Tuesday. As much as 30,353 hectares of agricultural land have been estimated as damaged, resulting in a loss of R225 crore to the state.
Cloud-seeding is a scientific technique where frozen carbon dioxide or silver iodide is dropped into the clouds either from an aircraft or through a water rocket, to condense them enough to create rainfall.
States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have experimented with cloud seeding though its cost-benefit analysis reports have not been so encouraging. The cost could be at least R300 crore.
The Kerala CM expressed his displeasure that the Union Government didnot give even an appointment to an all-party delegation, which wanted to discuss the desperate socio-economic situation in the State, following the drought. The Opposition has criticised the government for not tackling the drought effectively and for not approaching the Centre well in advance for support.
The state suffered shortage of 34% in southwest monsoon during June to September last year. The southwest monsoon contributes close to 70% of the state’s annual rainfall. The northeast monsoon, between October and December, arrived late too.
Kerala government had declared existence of a drought-like situation in the state during October.
Besides the shrinking farm-base and forest cover, the drying river-beds have added to the drought in the summer. Water resources minister Mathew T Thomas told the assembly that the water level in dams owned by the department has come down by 45%, while in dams owned by the State Electricity Board is down to 20% of its capacity. The dams owned by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) is 46 % lower as compared to past year.
“We have done everything that’s humanly possible to tackle drought. If cloud-seeding is necessary, we’ll go for that. We are considering that option” Vijayan said.