Drought-prone Latur district sees increase in area, shows study
DURING THE pre-and post-monsoon seasons, there has been a significant increase in areas in Latur in Marathwada classified as high, very high, or severe drought-prone, reveals a recent study.
The study, ‘Monitoring drought pattern for pre-and post-monsoon seasons in a semi-arid region of Western India’, documented the increasing drought condition in the Latur district from 1996 to 2016 using satellite data. It also notes a constant decline in the region’s ability to use water for irrigation and other purposes during the pre-monsoon season.
The report also warns other districts in Marathwada and parts of north Maharashtra— Beed, Osmanabad, Jalna, Jalgaon, Aurangabad, Nanded, and Dhule — which are vulnerable, as the condition is likely to severely impact the agrarian communities.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed Springer-Nature journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment recently. The area under very high drought (measured by the temperature condition index or TCI, which is used to analyse the stress brought on by temperature difference) increased from 58 to 664 sq km for the pre-monsoon season and 44 to 489 sq km for the post-monsoon season between 1996 and 2016.
In addition, the area affected by extremely high drought has grown from 1,269 to 1,788 sq km for the post-monsoon season and from 2,140 to 3,964 sq km for the pre-monsoon season, according to the Vegetation Condition Index, or VCI, which is used to evaluate vegetation health as compared to historical trends, stated the study.
“The main reason behind frequent droughts and the rising area under drought in Latur is climate change-induced declining monsoon rain in the region,” said Dr Atiqur Rahman, corresponding author of the study and Professor at Department of Geography, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia. He added that the availability of water for irrigation and other activities during the pre-monsoon season is declining consistently in the region.
Over the past month (June 1 to July 1, 2022), Latur has received 30 per cent excess rainfall but forecasts by the weather bureau indicate that a drop in active rainfall is expected through the rest of the current monsoon season.
As per the IMD, if a region experiences rainfall less than 10 per cent of the normal rainfall in the country, it is a drought-prone region. Historical rainfall data of Latur shows that it experiences less than 10 per cent rainfall a year twice every five years. Droughts in 2015-16 and 2016-2017 have also had grave consequences.
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