The mountainous northeast of India, comprising eight states, has recorded deficient rainfall for the second consecutive monsoon season, and experts have red-flagged rapid urbanisation and deforestation as reasons for the fall in precipitation in the region.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the northeast recorded 89 per cent of the long period average (LPA) rainfall this year -- well short of the 96-104 per cent of LPA needed for the monsoon to be declared normal. Last year, it had recorded 91 per cent of LPA, making this the second year of deficient rainfall.
The all-India average for this year is 97 per cent of LPA, marking it as a normal monsoon year.
The region this year recorded 1,281.5 mm of actual rainfall against normal rainfall of 1,437.8, the IMD said, while noting: "The lowest rainfall (89 per cent of LPA) this year was received by northeast India among all regions of the country."
The states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim comprise the northeast region that, despite the fall in precipitation in recent years, still boasts of some of the wettest places in the world.
"In the northeast, the normal monsoon period is June to September and sometimes it continues until October 10. However, this year delayed withdrawal of monsoon is likely around October 20," IMD Director Dilip Saha told IANS.
"The rainfall varies from state to state in the northeastern region. Tripura state recorded highest rainfall deficiency of 33 per cent. Last year, Tripura recorded normal rainfall," the IMD official said.
The IMD's Assam-Meghalaya Subdivision -- the biggest in the northeast -- recorded a 30 per cent rainfall deficiency, the second-steepest in India, next only to the Kerala Subdivision which recorded a huge 34 per cent shortfall.
The IMD said that out of the total 36 meteorological subdivisions, the seasonal rainfall was normal in 23 sub-divisions (72 per cent of the total area of the country) and excess in four sub-divisions (13 per cent of the total area of the country).
"Except for some parts of north India, southwest peninsula, west India and northeast India, most parts of the country received well distributed rainfall," the IMD added.
"Out of the 10 deficient sub-divisions, five were from northeast India, three from Central India, and two from northwest India. All the six excess sub-divisions were from South Peninsula."
An expert of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said deficient rains would not affect crops in Northeast India as there was good pre-monsoon rainfall recorded in most parts of the region.
"We expect a good and normal rainfall in the post monsoon period too," he added.
Environmental experts felt that growing urbanisation, climate change and a general lack of planning were responsible for less rainfall in the northeastern region, home to 45.58 million people (2011 census) and consisting eight per cent of the country's geographical area.
"Until a few years back, the region witnessed heavy rainfall and Cherrapunji and Mawsynram in Meghalaya have the distinction being rainiest places in the world. Now climatic conditions are changing in the region," environment and eco-tourism expert Subhash Das said.
He blamed lack of serious planning on afforestation, unscientific urbanisation and deforestation for having caused the "changing environment of the mountainous region".
"Earlier there were huge lakes, ponds and water-bodies in each of the northeastern states; now their numbers have gone down heavily with the authorities remaining mute spectators," said Das.
Das and other environmental experts of the region have been urging the governments and policymakers to make serious efforts to check the deteriorating environment of the ecologically-rich northeast.
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