DECLARATION OF DROUGHT IN INDIA (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 - Geography)

News-CRUX-10     28th August 2023        

Context: Farmers in Jharkhand are distraught due to deficit in rainfall in monsoon 2023. 

Key Points

  • Paddy is cultivated on about 1.8 million hectares of land in Jharkhand.
  • In 2022, the Jharkhand government had declared 256 blocks of the state as drought-affected and demanded a financial package of Rs 9,682 crore from the Centre. 
  • The central government permitted the state to spend about Rs 500 crore from the Disaster Relief Fund, but it was not enough to provide relief to the farmers.
  • The state government has informed the Centre there are chances of drought for the second consecutive year.
  • According to a notification issued by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, paddy and corn have been notified for the Crop Relief Scheme 2023-24.

Declaration of Drought in India

  • In India, there is no single, legally accepted definition of drought. 
  • The State Government is the final authority when it comes to declaring a region as drought affected.
  • Once a drought is determined, the state government needs to issue a notification specifying the geographical extent. The notification is valid for six months unless de-notified earlier.
  • The Government of India has published two important documents in respect of managing a drought.
    • The first step is to look at two mandatory indicators - rainfall deviation and dry spell.
      • Depending on the extent of the deviation, and whether or not there is a dry spell, the manual specifies various situations that may or may not be considered a drought trigger.
    • The second step is to look at four impact indicators - agriculture, vegetation indices based on remote sensing, soil moisture, and hydrology.
      • The States may consider any three of the four types of the Impact Indicators (one from each) for assessment of drought, the intensity of the calamity and make a judgement.
      • If all three chosen indicators are in the ‘severe’ category, it amounts to severe drought; and if two of the three chosen impact indicators are in the ‘moderate’ class, it amounts to moderate drought.
    • The third step comes in after both previous triggers have been set off. 
      • In that event, “States will conduct sample surveys for ground in order to make a final determination of drought.
      • The finding of field verification exercise will be the final basis for judging the intensity of drought as ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’.