Spectre of drought looms large over coastal Odisha

14 districts have recorded nearly 50% deficiency in rainfall in the month of July

With nearly 50% deficiency in rainfall recorded in 14 districts in the month of July, the spectre of drought looms large over coastal Odisha.

The situation in the five districts of Khordha, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Puri is worsening with every passing day.

Puri recorded the highest deficit rainfall of 62.2% in July, a critical month of advancement for the kharif crop season in the State. The shortfall in rainfall in Kendrapara is estimated to be 57.7%.

Districts such as Jajpur, Khordha, Sundargarh, Bhadrak, Balasore and Dhenkanal received less than half of the rainfall they usually get in the month of July. Six more districts have registered 40% shortfall in precipitation.

The process of paddy transplantation has been severely affected in coastal Odisha in the absence of rain.

“I am not able to sow the saplings as my crop field is completely dry. Transplantation should have been over in the month of July. The prolonged dry spell has made it impossible to make any progress in the current paddy crop season,” said Jatadhari Rout, a resident of Jagatsinghpur district.

Even if it rains in the near future, farmers are not likely to witness the kind of paddy growth they would have seen in a normal rainy season, said Mr. Rout.

According to the State Agriculture Department, surplus or deficit rainfall of up to 19% is considered normal.

Odisha’s cumulative shortfall in rainfall since June is 17.7%. As against average rainfall of 556.4 mm, the State has received 457.9 mm rainfall. Rainfall has also been highly erratic.

Fourteen of 30 districts have recorded deficit rainfall above 19%. The situation in coastal Puri, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur district is precarious, with cumulative deficit estimated above 44%. While Rayagada is the only district to have got surplus rainfall in the month of July, six districts — Jharsuguda, Ganjam, Nuapada, Gajapati, Rayagada and Kalahandi — have received excess rainfall in the months of June and July taken together.

The India Meteorological Department in Odisha said the southwest monsoon has been subdued over Odisha. Meanwhile, farmers are pinning their hopes on a low pressure area that is predicted to form over the north Bay of Bengal around August 4. Under this atmospheric system, many districts are likely to receive widespread rain.

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