QS Study

Drought Prone Areas in India

The term ‘drought’ is applied to an extended period when there is a shortage of water availability due to inadequate precipitation, excessive rate of evaporation and over-utilization of water from the reservoirs and other storages, including the groundwater. It is a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a shortage of water.

Indian agriculture has been heavily dependent on the monsoon rainfall. Droughts and floods are the two accompanying features of Indian climate. According to some estimates, nearly 19 percent of the total geographical area of the country and 12 percent of its total population suffer due to drought every year. About 30 percent of the country’s total area is identified as drought-prone affecting around 50 million people. It is a common experience that while some parts of the country reel under floods, there are regions that face severe drought during the same period. Moreover, it is also a common sight to witness that one region suffers due to floods in one season and experiences drought in the other. This is mainly because of the large-scale variations and unpredictability in the behavior of the monsoon in India. Thus, droughts are widespread and common phenomena in most parts of the country, but these are most recurrent and severe in some and not so in others. On the basis of severity of droughts, India can be divided into the following regions:

Extreme Drought Affected Areas: It is evident from the Figure that most parts of Rajasthan, particular areas to the west of the Aravali hills, i.e. Marusthali and Kachchh regions of Gujarat fall in this category. Included here are also the districts like Jaisalmer and Barmer from the Indian desert that receive less than 90 mm average annual rainfall.

Severe Drought Prone Area: Parts of eastern Rajasthan, most parts of Madhya Pradesh, eastern parts of Maharashtra, interior parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka Plateau, northern parts of interior Tamil Nadu and southern parts of Jharkhand and interior Orissa are included in this category.

Moderate Drought Affected Area: Northern parts of Rajasthan, Haryana, southern districts of Uttar Pradesh, the remaining parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra except Konkan, Jharkhand and Coimbatore plateau of Tamil Nadu and interior Karnataka are included in this category. The remaining parts of India can be considered either free or less prone to the drought.

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