31 May 2016 Current Affairs: According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), if the rainfall during the four monsoon months of June to September is deficient by 10 per cent of its long-term average, it is declared a drought monsoon.
Indian Monsoon this year is predicted to be normal with La Nina playing the favourable role. Indian subcontinent in last two years received sparse rainfall leading to drought in many parts of the country and affecting million of rural population.
According to a study done by scientists from Kerala and Pune, constant cooling of the atmosphere over Central Asia is set to increase the frequency of drought between 2020 and 2049.
Present Drought Situation : Grim Facts : In 2015-16, 266 districts in 11 different states were declared drought affected. Among them, more than 70 percent districts were in 8 States.The 11 drought affected States are – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Jharkhand.
In both Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, 93% of the districts are drought affected followed by Jharkhand with 92% drought affected districts. 90% of the districts are drought affected in both Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.In terms of absolute numbers, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of drought affected districts (50) followed by Madhya Pradesh (46). More than 20 districts are affected by drought in five other states.
The present specter of drought has affected more than 300 million people living in these 266 districts.The food grain production in 2015-16 has decreased compared to the average production of the preceding 5 years.
The average food grain production between 2010-11 and 2014-15 is 255.59 million tonnes, while in 2015-16, it is estimated to be at 253.16 million tones.
Steps Taken by Government
Announcements made in Budget 2016-17 : Every block in drought affected areas will be taken up as an intensive Block under Deen Dayal Antyodaya MissionCluster Facilitation Teams (CFT) will be set up under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to ensure water conservation and natural resource management.
Assistance from NDRF: In 2015-16, various states had submitted requests on drought, seeking financial assistance from National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).Around 13500 crore rupees were approved from NDRF for drought relief in 10 different states affected by drought.
Maharashtra was given the highest amount of relief (3049 crore rupees) followed by Karnataka with 2263 crore rupees.Formation of Self Help Groups (SHGs) will be speeded up to promote multiple livelihoods
Assistance to Farming Community : During drought the farming community is the worst affected. Against this backdrop, the Union Government in March 2015 revised norms in relation to the compensation to distressed farmers. The revised norms are –
i. Farmers will be eligible for input subsidy even if 33 percent of their crop has been damaged due to unforeseen weather conditions as opposed to 50 percent or more, which is the norm till now.
ii. Input subsidy given to distressed farmers will be enhanced by 50 percent of the existing amounts.
iii. Besides, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana was approved in order to better protect farmers in times of unforeseen crises including drought.
Programmes with potential to aid Drought Management : National Hydrology Project: The Union Cabinet in April 2016 approved the National Hydrology Project (NHP) at an estimated cost of around 3700 crore rupees.The project seeks to build the capacity of the government agencies in water resources management through the use of information systems and adoption of state-of-the-art technologies including remote sensing.Neeranchal National Watershed Project : It was approved by the Union Cabinet in October 2015 with a total budget of 2142 crore rupees in which India would bear 1071 crore rupees and the rest 50 percent cost will be borne by the World Bank.It will support the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana in hydrology and water management, agricultural production systems, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation.The project seeks to support integrated watershed management program (IWMP) through technical assistance to improve incremental conservation outcomes and agricultural yields.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana : It was approved by the Union Government in July 2015 with an outlay of over 50000 crore rupees for the period between 2015 and 2020. The scheme seeks to provide convergence to existing schemes of water management, thus bringing efficiency to the use of water.It also aims at expanding cultivable area under assured irrigation (Har Khet ko pani) and improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water.