Frontline Gist: Issue February 3, 2017

 3/1/2017  1037

Frontline Gist:Issue

February 3, 2017

Death in the Delta

What constitutes Drought:

(Related Article: What constitutes Drought, by T.S. Subramanian, page no. 22)

•India’s Manual for drought management recommends that Rainfall deficiency, the extent of sown area, normalized difference vegetation index and moisture adequacy index are “the four standard monitoring tools”

•Drought can be declared by State Government 

•At least three indicators can be considered for drought declaration but the most important criterion is rainfall deficiency. 

•A state government can consider declaring a drought if the total rainfall for state’s entire duration of rainy season i.e. either June to September or from October to December is less than 75% of the average rainfall for the season and there is an adverse impact on vegetation and soil moisture

•Government can consider declaring drought if along with other indicators, the total area sown by end July/August or November/December is less than 50%.

•Moisture adequacy Index(MAI) values “are critical to ascertain an agricultural drought”. MAI values should be applied in conjunction with other indicators such as rainfall figures etc

•Other factors that government should consider for declaring a drought are:

a)Drinking water supply situation and its prevailing price compared to normal price

b)Unusual movement of labor in search of employment 

c)The prevailing agricultural and non agricultural wages compared with normal times

d)Supply of food grains and price of essential commodities

•Collectors can notify a drought only after the state government declares it all over the state or parts of it

Situation in Tamil Nadu:

(Related Articles: Withering Lives, by T.S. Subramanian, page no. 4; Falling water table and a dry river, by T.S. Subramanian, page no. 15; Dry and dreary, by T.S. Subramanian, page no. 26)

•In TN, in three Cauvery delta districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam and Cauvery belt which includes Erode, Karur, Namakkal, Pudukottai and Tiruchi districts, farmers cultivate the kuruvai paddy crop between June and September when Karnataka releases water which flows in Mettur dam and hence lifeline of Cauvery belt farmers of TN

•This time less water was released by Karnataka due to less rainfall and north east monsoon which is responsible for rainfall in TN was deficit hence TN faced one of the worst drought

•TN government to combat this announced slew of measures like tax on land to be waived; farmers who lost 33% of their crops would receive compensation; working days under MGNREGS would go up from 100 to 150 days; families of 17 farmers who committed suicide in past two months would receive Rs. 3 lakh each etc.

•The districts of Cauvery belt like Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam and Tiruchi district which form the rice bowl of TN. The impact is severe in many other districts like Erode, Karur etc. 

•Not only have the kuruvai and samba paddy crop become a washout but the yield of other crops such as black gram, red gram, sorghum, maize, onion, tomato, citrus fruit, lady’s finger, chilli, cotton turmeric, grapes have been poor

•Karnataka farmers use Cauvery water to cultivate sugarcane

•Deficient rainfall from SW monsoon, Karnataka’s government refusal to comply with final award and failure of NE monsoon in TN

•Demonetisation and drought

a)Hardest hit farmers who used ground water and initiated the cultivation of paddy, sugarcane etc. they suddenly found that they had no money to buy urea, fertilizers and pay their labor

b)They dependent on cash and had no money to pay premium for insurance schemes

c)Cooperative banks remained inoperative for two months

d)Increase in migration of labors from villages to towns as avenues of work dry up in villages

•Siltation of tributaries of Cauvery

•Recommendation for government

a)Labor under MGNREG to be inducted in work of de-siltation of canals, lakes, ponds

b)Distribute 30 kg of rice a month free of cost to the families of agricultural workers

c)Wanted compensation of Rs. 25000 an acre for withered paddy and Rs.50000 an acre for sugarcane and adequate compensation for rain fed crops such as maize, ragi,             groundnuts and betel leaves

d)A solatium of Rs. 10 lakh from CM Relief fund should be paid to farmers who committed suicide or died in shock




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