Drought can be declared if rainfall less than 50 %: Maha Cabinet panel

A proposal has been mooted for the Maharashtra government to declare an area as drought-hit if it receives less than 50 per cent of average rainfall between June and July as against the earlier criterion of less than 75 per cent precipitation in the said months.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 16, 2015, 23:19 PM IST

Mumbai: A proposal has been mooted for the Maharashtra government to declare an area as drought-hit if it receives less than 50 per cent of average rainfall between June and July as against the earlier criterion of less than 75 per cent precipitation in the said months.

A state Cabinet sub-committee has drafted new field crop yield assessment norms and changed the parameters as per which Maharashtra government may declare an area as drought- affected.

As per the sub-committee's recommendations, drought can be declared if there is less than 50 per cent of average rainfall between June and July and if the sown area is less than 50 per cent of the total cultivated area.

Speaking to reporters here today, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said the report of the sub-committee has been placed before the state Cabinet, which will consider it at its next meeting.

The report seeks to amend the Drought Manual 2009, whereby the terminology of "drought-like situation" will be replaced with a clearly defined term, "drought", he said.

The earlier norms, which came into existence during the British Raj, relied on 'Nazar Aanewari' (on site crop yield), Khadse said.

"After Independence, the base changed to Paisewari. However, with the devaluation of the paisa, the yield assessment is even today conjectured by standing on the farm bund and arriving at an approximate crop yield estimate," he said.

However, the government will henceforth rely on satellite technology to arrive at a more accurate assessment of the crop yield. For this purpose, remote-sensing technology available with Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Center will be used to determine acreage estimation.

"It has been recommended that technology with Division- wise Automated Weather Stations (AWS) be used if it can measure crop yields based on factors like rainfall, temperature, moisture and other related factors," Khadse said.

The sub-committee, in its report, recommended that the norm for declaring drought if there was less than 75 per cent rainfall be revised to less than 50 per cent rainfall from June to July.

Drought should be declared if the water stock in irrigation dams is less than minus 0.4 of the Normal Difference in Vegetation Index (NDVI).

The other new norms recommended include determining drought on the basis of Moisture Adequacy Index.