Drought Current Affairs

Drought, heatwaves increasing in frequency, area in India: IISc Study

Researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have found that frequency of heatwaves accompanied by drought has increased in magnitude and in area over past three decades in India.

The increases in cocktail of drought and heatwaves were seen particularly in Maharashtra and Southern Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Central India.

Key Facts

Heatwaves (a prolonged period when temperatures approach record extremes) and droughts are destructive even when occurring in separate events, but their concurrence is far more serious. Both phenomena have a serious bearing on water resources, affecting agriculture and human settlements.

The conclusion was based on analysis of rainfall and temperature data of 50 years. Researchers had compared Heatwave Magnitude Index daily (HWMId) — which combines duration and magnitude of heatwaves — and Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), which defines meteorological drought from 1951 to 1981.

In all combinations of heatwaves (3.5 and 10-day events) and drought (moderate or severe) were analysed during this period. It was found that, percentage increase in frequency was most significant in parts of Maharashtra and Southern Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The increase may be due to intricate relationship of land surface processes, soil moisture, evapo-transpiration and local climate.

The area affected b extreme of extreme incident has gone from almost nothing in 1951, to nearly 4% by 2010. Nearly 18% of country’s area on average has been facing at least three days of temperatures above 85th percentile.

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Union Government announces central assistance of Rs. 6,794 crore to three drought-hit states

Union Government has approved financial aid of Rs. 6,794 crore for three states—Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh affected by drought in year 2015 due to deficit rainfall.

Of the total financial aid, government has approved Rs.3,100 crore for Maharashtra, Rs.1,672 crore for Chhattisgarh and Rs.2,022 crore for Madhya Pradesh.

Maharashtra, which had declared drought bout 15% of the state i.e. in more than 15,000 villages and had demanded Rs.4,003 crore in central assistance.

Seven other states—Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh also have been declared drought this year due to rainfall deficit. In 2015, the drought has affected crops spread over an area of 19 million hectare in just seven states. In all, 18 states have been recorded deficit rainfall this year.

Earlier in November 2015, Union Government had approved Rs.1,540 crore for Karnataka which was the first state in the country to declare a drought in August 2015.

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