India Meteorological Department (IMD) has decided to drop the term ‘drought’ from its official terminology, as it is outside its purview.
Officials said an order to this effect had been circulated across all offices of IMD. Director General Laxman Singh Rathore told this newspaper: “We will not use the term any more and will replace it with ‘rainfall deficiency’ whenever we have poor rains.”
IMD earlier used to term a year as one of drought whenever rain deficiency was more than 10 per cent. When 20-40 per cent of the country faced drought, it was termed an all-India drought year. When spatial coverage of drought was more than 40 per cent, it was termed an All-India Severe Drought Year.
The southwest monsoon in 2015 was 86 per cent of the long period average, which made 2014 and 2015 the fourth case of consecutive all-India deficient monsoon years, during the past 115 years. The insufficient rains led to drought in around 40 per cent of the country.
So far, 10 state governments have declared drought. The Centre has disbursed financial assistance of about Rs 10,000 crore to seven states. Officials have completed touring the remaining three.
However, the deficient rain did not have much of an impact on kharif foodgrain output, except pulses, as the spread was rather even. In the first advance estimate of 2015-16, kharif production this year is expected to be 124.05 million tonnes, around three mt more than the first advance estimate of 2014-15.