Spectre of drought looms large over four districts

Though Kerala receives 70 percent of the annual rainfall during the South-West Monsoon, the state lacks the infrastructure to store the water for use during the summer season.

Published: 03rd March 2019 01:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd March 2019 05:25 AM   |  A+A-

Children taking a dip in Neyyar dam to save themselves from the scorching sun. Mercury touched 35 degree Celsius in Thiruvananthapuam on Saturday | Vincent Pulickal

Express News Service

KOCHI: Though the state received excess rainfall during the initial days of the South-West Monsoon, the climatic changes triggered by the devastating flood have triggered a drought-like stress condition in four districts. According to weather watchers, the state is experiencing an unusually hot summer with many places recording a departure of 3 - 3.5 degree Celsius compared to the normal temperature recorded during this season in the past.

“Four districts - Kasargod, Palakkad, Thrissur and Kollam - have recorded more than 25 per cent deficient rain during the October-February season. The rivers, the lifeline of these districts, are fast drying up and there is a steep depletion in the ground water level. If the summer rain, which contributes 13 percent of the annual rainfall, fails to deliver, it will lead to severe drought,” Kerala Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) Geomatics Division head and senior principal scientist V P Dinesan told Express.

Though Kerala receives 70 percent of the annual rainfall during the South-West Monsoon, the state lacks the infrastructure to store the water for use during the summer season. “The North East Monsoon and summer rain together contribute 30 percent of the annual rainfall, which helps us tide over the water crisis during summer  season. The rate of evaporation is high these days due to the hot conditions and a sizeable quantity of water is lost due to this,” he said.

Kasargod reported 39 per cent deficiency in rainfall during the October-February period. Palakkad recorded 38 percent decline in rainfall while Thrissur and Kollam received 30 per cent and 24 per cent deficient rainfall, respectively. There was a corresponding decline in groundwater level in these areas, which threatens to create a water crisis. Thiruvananthapuram received 18 per cent less rain during the period and Kozhikode follows with 16 per cent deficient rainfall.

If the summer rains fail to replenish the ground water resources, the situation in these districts can turn grave. Kerala is geographically divided into three regions. The eastern highlands, which feature mountainous terrain, the central midlands with its rolling hills, and the lowlands, which form the coastal plains, play a crucial role in maintaining the climate. Due to the deficient rainfall after the floods, the highlands reported a depletion of 1 - 2 m in ground water level, while the midlands recorded a decline of 50 cm to 1 m. 

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