The rain god is certainly not smiling on the eastern states. After West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand — all of them have been hit by deficient rainfall — Orissa is also contemplating to seek drought assistance from the central government if monsoon rains do not return within the next seven days.
As many as 41 blocks in affected districts like Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Deogarh have been facing a rainfall deficit of 50 to 80 per cent, and the situation is likely to worsen if the state does not receive normal rains soon.
“We would watch the situation for around seven days. If the state does not receive normal monsoon rainfall by that time, we will be forced to approach the Centre for drought assistance. West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand have been hit by deficient rainfall and have already approached the Centre for drought assistance,” said S N Patra, the state minister for revenue and disaster management.
The minister stated that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had called a review meeting on August 18 on the possibility of a drought-like situation in the state.
The state has received 36 per cent less rains in June, 14 per cent in July and around two per cent till August 16. However, the deficiency has been 20 per cent in 11 districts till August 16.
Patnaik has instructed state Agriculture Secretary U P Singh to form a task force to review the impact of the deficient rainfall on the kharif crops in the state. The task force is required to file a report every week in this connection.
The state has so far received monsoon rainfall only induced by low pressure. Only 91 blocks in coastal districts like Cuttack, Khurda and Ganjam have recorded more than normal rainfall in the months of June, July and August.
Though there have been no official reports of crop damage and sowing as well as transplantation operations have been normal during this kharif season, the erratic monsoon is likely to cause damage to the standing paddy crops.
Due to deficient monsoon rains, the reservoir levels have plunged, resulting in inadequate supply of water for irrigated lands.
While the situation is not affecting large irrigation projects, the medium and small ones do not have adequate water and to tackle the situation, it has been decided to run more and more lift irrigation points.