Himachal Pradesh Under a Drought Spell, Water Supply and Crops Profoundly Affected
A prolonged dry spell has hit the Himalayan state, posing difficulties for drinking water supply schemes, agriculture and horticulture sectors
Rapidly changing climatic conditions and rising temperatures have created a long spell of drought in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh in India. Rainfall shift and dry conditions have affected the supply of water and crop yields across the state, threatening the livelihood of its residents who mostly depend on agriculture and horticulture.
This year, Himachal Pradesh received 92 percent less rainfall in March and April, resulting in drought-like circumstances. Himachal received only 12.4 mm of rainfall against the usual of 172 mm in the months of spring. Ten districts recorded over 90 percent rainfall deficit except for Kullu and Mandi, where 84 percent and 83 percent less rain was witnessed, respectively.
Jal Shakti Minister Mahender Singh Thakur said that the rainfall shortage has affected 550 drinking water supply schemes wherein the water level has retreated frighteningly. The state has about 9,800 such schemes that cater to its 75.8 lakh residents.
All the districts have been asked to submit reports about the shortage of drinking water. The chief minister will hold a meeting with all the line departments to assess the situation on May 1 after which the matter will be raised with the Union government to declare Himachal drought-hit.
The state government has urged the Centre to send a team to analyse and assist the affected areas and assess losses. Farmers are bearing the brunt of this dry spell as agricultural and fruit crops are getting withered without rainfall. The impact is evident in apple-growing areas in northern regions of the state. Moreover, 60 percent of agricultural crops have already been damaged. The wheat harvest is the worst hit, which is shriveled and lost luster.
The minister of Jal Shakti is planning to install hand-pumps in the drought-hit areas to overcome the shortage of drinking water; even though it may not be the best of ideas as a rainfall deficit would have also affected groundwater levels.
Meanwhile, rising temperatures are sparking forest fires in the hill state. In March, Himachal Pradesh battled over 500 wildfires. Over 4,000 hectares have been burned due to wildfires with property losses estimated to be in crores. The fire season in the state is from April 1 to June 30.
Via: Amar Ujala