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Drought Looming Over Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar


  • Never in the last 122 years have Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand experienced such low monsoon rainfall. The administration is finalising contingency plans as farmers in both states wait for a good spell to begin sowing.
  • Food and water scarcity will be major issues in the country’s major rice producing states, potentially affecting India’s kharif crop this year.


GS Paper 3: Disaster Management

Mains Question

“Drought affects a large portion of India to varying degrees.” Highlight the factors that cause droughts in India. Make recommendations for drought-relief measures. (250 Words)

Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh’s worst monsoon in 100 years

  • Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are having the worst monsoon season on record.
  • Between June 1 and August 12, rainfall in Jharkhand was 371.9mm, compared to a normal of 627.6mm, representing a 41% seasonal deficit. According to the IMD’s rainfall data, this is the lowest amount of rain recorded in Jharkhand (June to August) since 1901.
  • Only twice in the last 122 years has Jharkhand experienced such low rainfall (less than 500mm from June to August) — in 2010 (439mm) and 1993. (469.6mm). In 2019, a smaller rainfall deficit was reported (593mm).
  • The picture is also bleak in Uttar Pradesh, which has received only 251.7mm of the seasonal average of 449.1mm through August 12.
  • UP, like Jharkhand, is the most rain-scarce Indian state this year and has been since the start of the monsoon season.
  • UP’s driest monsoon months (June to August) between 1901 and 2021 were in 1987 (349.3mm), 2009 (365mm), 1996 (392mm), 2014 (394.3mm), and 1972. (424.3mm).
  • Except for Dhanbad (2 weeks), East Singhbhum (8 weeks), West Singhbhum (2 weeks), and Giridih and Saraikela (1 week each), the other 19 districts of Jharkhand have not received normal rainfall during any of the previous 10 monsoon weeks, according to the IMD’s week-by-week rainfall report (till August 10).
  • Farrukhabad (-77), Jaunpur (-72), Kanpur Dehat (-70), Mau (-65), Chandauli (-63), Ballia and Bahraich (-62 each), Basti (-59), Amethi (-57), Banda (-52) and Ayodhya are the worst affected districts in UP (-51).

Reservoir Storage

  • According to the Central Water Commission’s reservoir storage report dated August 11, the water reserves in Jharkhand’s six major reservoirs were 0.594 billion cubic metres (BCM), compared to a 10-year average of 1.18 BCM.
  • That is, available water stocks account for only 30% of total storage capacity. In comparison, the same stocks at this time last year accounted for 78% of total storage capacity.
  • The reservoirs of UP have filled up to 28% of the total storage capacity of eight dams. It will be 53% in 2021. The current water reserves are 2.15 billion cubic metres, compared to a 10-year average of 3.09 billion cubic metres.

The Departure

  • The 2022 monsoon has been anything but normal for Bihar, deviating from the norm of overflowing Ganges and flooding.
  • Bihar has received 376.5mm of rain this season, compared to a normal of 602.6mm, a 38% deficit, as of August 12.
  • The monsoon of 2022 could be the worst in Bihar’s history; only once before, in 1972, did the state receive 375mm from June to August. Poor monsoon seasons for these three months have previously occurred in 2010 (466.6mm), 2013, (50.32mm), 2012 (573.9mm), and 1992. (588.7mm).
  • Overall, July was the driest month in East and Northeast India since 1903, with a 45 percent rain deficit. Manipur (-41%), Tripura (-29%), and West Bengal (-21%) have all experienced ‘deficient’ rainfall since the monsoon began.
  • In the east and northeast India regions, only Assam and Meghalaya, Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim (5% each), and Arunachal Pradesh (-12%, but normal) have recorded normal rainfall this monsoon season.

Causes for rain deficit

  • Only three low pressure systems formed in the Bay of Bengal this season, mostly off the coast of Odisha. These systems had no effect on Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, or Bihar.
  • As a result, one of the two rain-bearing causes remained unpopular with these states.
  • Furthermore, the monsoon trough — an east-west low-pressure area extending from the heat low over Pakistan to the head of the Bay of Bengal — has remained south of its normal position for the majority of the days in July and August this year.
  • Low pressure systems remained stationary in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • He noted that such unfavourable conditions contributed to high rainfall deficits throughout the season.
  • The location, oscillation, and duration of a monsoon trough over a specific location all have a direct impact on rainfall activity over the regions directly to the south of its position.
  • That is, when it is south of its normal position, there is active or vigorous rainfall over most of central and peninsular India. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and the northeastern states benefit when it shifts to the north of its normal position or lies along the Himalayan foothills.

Farmer’s Way Forward

  • In Uttar Pradesh, the Agriculture Meteorology division has recommended that rice be transplanted until August 15, and that short-duration rice varieties be used. Red gramme cultivation has been encouraged by experts.
  • “We recommend farmers choose intercropping and short duration rice varieties,” said Kripan Ghosh, head of IMD’s Agriculture Meteorology division.
  • Agrimet has recommended that farmers in Jharkhand take measures to conserve soil moisture.
  • It is not recommended to sow until there has been 50 to 60mm of rain and sufficient moisture for at least three consecutive days. During the rest of the season, short-duration rice, millet, maize, and arhar should be considered for cultivation.

December 2023