As the new government gets sworn in on Thursday, one of its priorities would be to help states, particularly those in the south, to tackle deep drought. More than 40 per cent of the area of the country may face drought, according to the Drought Early Warning System run by the IIT, Gandhinagar. Of this, nearly half the area is looking at severe to exceptional drought.
The pre-monsoon rains (between March and May) are an indicator — they have been deficient by 23 per cent across the country. And nearly two-thirds of the country’s area has recorded either deficient or highly deficient rains. That makes it the most serious failure of pre-monsoon rains in six years.
Southern states, with 49 per cent deficient rain during the period, have fared the worst. By the time the monsoon kicks in, the weighted average rainfall numbers might mask the regional deficiencies and soil moisture levels could improve. But the pre-monsoon deficiency has caused stress in rural India and led to water shortages in cities.