Drought Declaration Norms

Drought Declaration Norms

News: Amid a prolonged dry spell of monsoon rainfall, the Karnataka government has written to the Central government to reevaluate the parameters for drought declaration.

What is Drought?
• Drought is a prolonged period of abnormally low precipitation (rainfall, snowfall, etc.) in a specific region, leading to a shortage of water resources that can impact various aspects of human life, ecosystems, and economies. Drought is a natural hazard that can have significant socio-economic and environmental consequences.

What is the process of Drought Declaration in India?
• State Governments have the authority to declare drought-affected regions.
• The first step involves examining two mandatory indicators i) Rainfall deviation and ii) Dry spell
• The second step involves evaluating four impact indicators - agriculture, vegetation indices (remote sensing), soil moisture, and hydrology. States may choose any three of the four impact indicators (one from each) to assess drought intensity and categorize it as severe or moderate.
• If all three chosen impact indicators are in the ‘severe’ category, it indicates severe drought. If two of the three chosen impact indicators are in the ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’ category, it indicates moderate drought.
• After the previous triggers are set off, States conduct a sample survey on the ground to determine the final intensity of drought. Field verification findings determine if the drought is ‘severe’ or ‘moderate’.
• Once the intensity of the drought is determined, the state government issues a notification specifying the geographical extent of the drought-affected area. The notification is valid for six months unless de-notified earlier.

What are the issues with Drought Declaration process in India?
• Lack of Uniform Criteria - The criteria for declaring drought vary across different states and regions. There is no uniform standard or set of parameters that all states follow, leading to inconsistencies in drought declaration. This lack of standardized criteria can result in disparities in relief measures and assistance provided to affected regions.
• Subjectivity and Political Influence - The decision-making process for declaring drought is often influenced by political considerations.
• Inadequate Capturing of Distress - The Manual for Drought Management integrates meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological aspects but fails to adequately address agricultural distress in rural areas.
• The current criteria do not account for local ecological factors, water availability, and agricultural practices, which vary across regions and impact drought severity.
• Rigid Definition of Dry Spells - The existing three to four-week dry spell definition does not consider variations in soil type, crop variety, temperatures, and vegetative state that influence crop damage.

What recommendations have been given by Karnataka government?
• Karnataka has proposed region-specific criteria that take into account local ecological factors, water availability, and agricultural practices for declaring drought.
• Redefining dry spells from the current three to four weeks to less than two weeks of consecutive dry spells.
• Factors such as soil type, crop variety, temperatures, and vegetative state must be considered, as even a two-week dry spell can lead to irreversible crop damage.

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