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10 Solutions to the Drought Problems in India

Updated on August 15, 2016


Ways to Avoid Drought
Ways to Avoid Drought

Indian subcontinent is majorly regulated by monsoon downpour. And it has been off-form in the last couple of years - 2014 and 2015. Statistics show that at least 330 million people in the whole country have had to withstand the drought conditions caused by scarce monsoon. The most important reason for drought condition is a long spell of hot weather expanding almost throughout the country. On paper, almost 256 regions in the country, which accounts for approximately 25% of the total Indian population have had to endure the drought situation.

Due to the current Global Warming effects, one must admit that droughts cannot be prevented. Yet its repercussions can be significantly reduced with the help of skillful planning and execution.

1) Timely predictions from the Meteorological Department (IMD):

Timely predictions from the Meteorological Department (IMD):
Timely predictions from the Meteorological Department (IMD):

IMD must forecast monsoon levels much before it's too late, thereby giving a chance to the farmers to strategize their harvesting. IMD must become more alert and knowing. And to its credit, one must admit that its current predictions related to drought conditions in Maharashtra have been highly precise. These exact predictions can help reduce the extent of the damage caused. The bygone year IMD prediction was quite different from its earlier ones. It was the first instance that IMD predicted a scarce monsoon in April month, and not only this, the first instance when it precisely anticipated a drought. More and more Research and Development facilities for improved weather forecasts must be endorsed by the Government. Not just this, there should be improved communication between agronomists and farmers so that they may produce a joint effort towards sorting out drought related out issues.

2) Storage of Food Grains above the Normal Level:

Storage of Food Grains above the Normal Level
Storage of Food Grains above the Normal Level

It has been a general practice for the Government to stock abnormally high levels of food grains to meet any kind of food scarcity in the near future. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is responsible for attaining, conserving and allotting of food grains. During the occurrence of droughts, FCI disperses from the excess stock to accommodate the foodstuff demand in the drought affected areas. This method helps the country to become self reliant even in the times of drought.

But there are some serious issues with the food grain storage policy of the Government. First, the government stores more food grains than it can ‘handle’ resulting in wastage. The Government till date has no such system in place which may provide the actual time stock value. Second, is the problem of prevalent corruption. Hoarding and Black Marketeering are the most dangerous issues. Some measures must be taken to combat these issues in order to ensure sufficient food supply to the citizens.

3) Alternate Cropping Strategy

Main Crop
Alternate Crop
Maize, Moong/ Orad, Arhar
Mustard, Chick Pea, Lentils, Field Peas, Maize
Dry Beans, Dry Broad Beans, Dry Peas, Chick Peas, Cow Peas, Pigeon Peas, Lentils, Bambara Beans, Vetches, Lupins and Pulses
Suggestion for Alternate Cropping Strategy

Alternate Cropping Plan suitable for the drought must be adopted. The plan must take the soil moisture percentage into the account. Proper stocking of seeds' inventory must be maintained. Planning must be done in coordination with Meteorological Department so as to deal with the drought condition. This strategy of Alternate Cropping has got huge benefits - it allows recycling of nutrients in the soil and regulates pests.

If there is a delay in monsoon arrival, then Jowar must be planted. And if it is too late for Jowar to be planted, then one must go for Bajra, Ragi, Sweet Potato, etc. There are several pulses which require relatively lower water volume but are higher priced ones. The flourishing import of pulses is a sign of inattention towards dryland farming.

4) Crop Diversity

Crop Diversity
Crop Diversity

In general, agricultural practices have emphasized on stabilizing the prices and making the farmers richer. This Short Term Thinking is one big problem. This creates an obstacle in the diversification process. The sure shot measure to combat against instability in farming is to expand the repository. As they say, "Even a wrong clock is right twice." Be it enormous heat or whipping monsoon, a portion of the arrangement must be able to accept it for the good.

Predictions for the slump in the production of primary crops like rice, wheat, etc. are bound to produce more stress on our capabilities of producing them. And Global Warming is a big threat to a developing country like India. As a result of Global Warming phenomenon, the weather conditions have been changing dramatically, especially in the last decade. The country's farmers must tailor their farming methods in tune with the evolved weather conditions. So, it is very important to adopt Crop Diversity and introduce a fresh variety of crops which defy the threats of drought, flood, etc. that are posed by the weather changes. This technique will also help bolster world wide food preservation in the future.

5) Meatless Once A Week:

Meatless Once A Week
Meatless Once A Week

Going vegetarian is one of the most practical solution to the drought situation. The process of producing meat for human use is a water-intensive one. Ongoing processes use up 7 kgs of grain and 100,000 liters of water per 1 kg of meat. All meat eaters must pledge to go meatless once a week. Common mass is quite possessive about its food habits. Hence, Meatless Mondays may be the most efficient method in relation to this problem. In a fresh release, prominent water researchers state that people around the globe would have to shift to a cent percent vegetarian regime by 2050 to avert disastrous worldwide water shortage.

Besides, the protection of animals will also help maintain nature's equilibrium which in turn will stop "Global Warming" and avoid drought like situations.

6) Judicial usage of Water by Power Plants:

Judicial usage of Water by Power Plants
Judicial usage of Water by Power Plants

Huge amount of water is used up in the generation of electricity. Proper water management during the process of electricity generation will aid in the reduction of damage caused by the water shortfall. The amount of usage of water in Power Generation industry exceeds that of the Agricultural sector as well. So, in order to conserve water during the times of drought, power sector must find an alternative to its water needs.

Prominent water researchers revealed that the amount of drinkable water being expended by the country's coal-led power plants can accommodate the essential water requirements of more than 25 crore people.Not only this, if all the upcoming power plants are to be taken into consideration, then the quantity of water used up by power plants would plummet three times. It is time we shifted to a better energy generation system which has less dependency on water. If the way of operations of power plants does not change, then it is going to add to the fresh water supply pressure thus creating an imbalance in the nature's ecosystem which may cause situations like drought.

7) Proper Irrigation System

Total Dams
Madhya Pradesh
Proper Irrigation System:

A proper irrigation system is very important to overcome the menace caused by the drought. It is ironical that though Maharashtra is the state with the highest number of dams in the country, yet it has been worst affected by drought. While communicating with the media, ex Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiraj Chavan presented some figures in relation to the state's irrigation network. “Of the land that is tilled, only 18 percent is irrigated. Now if you compare that, Punjab is 98 percent irrigated, Haryana is 90 percent, UP is 60 percent, Bihar is 60 to 70 percent or in that range. The national average of land that is irrigated is between 45 and 46 percent. We're at 18 percent. Only Kerala is lower ours. 18 percent is just bad.” But what he forgot to mention is that Maharashtra state has the highest number of dams in the country. There have been states with a much lesser number of dams as compared to Maharashtra but with a much more efficient irrigation network which helps them to combat drought situations in a much better way.

8) Better Water Storage Facilities:

Better Water Storage Facilites
Better Water Storage Facilites

India gets approximately 4,000 billion cubic meters of rainfall per year. India receives the majority of its rainfall in the monsoon season. Sadly, only 48% of the total monsoon rainfall is received by the rivers. Because of the inadequate water conservation facilities, only 18% of it is usable. The poor water storage facility along with the irregular rainfall patterns creates water scarcity during the dry season. Surface water is water deposited on the soil's outer surface or beneath the earth, blocked water, i.e. the abundant rainfall contained in vegetative area, and water contained in low lying areas like flooded plains, lakes, swamps or pools. Exclusive surface storage plans must be assessed and their accompanying advantages and disadvantages must be observed as a whole. Appropriately planned surface water storage projects contribute to the extra water maintenance, which in turn aids in meeting the downstream urban, industrial and agricultural water needs, bettering flood management, producing clean hydropower, arranging relaxation events, and generating extra flows that can be used for the welfare of wildlife species.

9) Desalination of Sea Water to Make it Consumable:

Desalination of Sea Water to Make it Consumable
Desalination of Sea Water to Make it Consumable

While debating the drought condition, there is a frequent mention of desalination and its role in boosting our freshwater source. Desalination is a technique of filtering salt and minerals from saline water. It may be identified as the most straightforward solution to the drought issue as it the most dependable, drought-proof water supply. Researchers at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) have worked on this solution. The pilot plant is located in Tamil Nadu and it uses up the water steam from the nuclear reactor to desalinate the sea water thus making it ready for public use. The plant is equipped to generate 6.3 million litres of drinkable water.

10) Rainwater harvesting:

Rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting

Global Warming has caused a huge disorder in the world’s rainfall distribution as a result of which some developing countries have been at the receiving end thus causing a reduction in water levels in many reservoirs. The answer to this problem is Rainwater Harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is a method of holding of rainwater into natural or artificial reservoirs. Soil banks may be built up across the borders of the field which may aid in holding back the rainwater which comes into use for harvesting during the times of drought.

An example of rainwater harvesting may be seen in the Kadavanchi in Jalna district situated in Marathawada region, which has been badly affected by the droughts. Abundant greenery and most primarily, tonnes of water - scenes that are in complete contradiction to the gloom that could have been seen everywhere else in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. This village of Kadavanchi, a half-hour drive from Jalna city has transformed itself simply by implementing rainwater harvesting projects. Nearly 300 villagers have captured rain water, which served them constantly through the 2 years of drought, securing over 3,000 villagers.


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