Sixty-four districts in Uttar Pradesh have received less than normal rainfall this monsoon, with several of these staring at drought-like conditions.
According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) data, only 11 of the 75 UP districts have received normal rainfall till August 19.
While government officials say rain in coming days will bridge the deficit, farmers fear it is already too late.
“Our crop is getting damaged. What will rain do later,” asks Bhagat Pal, a small paddy farmer of Jaunpur district of eastern UP.
Paddy farmers have been particularly affected, first by the delay of rain and then by its deficit.
Jaunpur is among the districts that have received least rainfall this monsoon.
According to the IMD data, the district has received 74 per cent less rainfall. The district recorded only 123.2 mm of rainfall this monsoon compared with the long-period average (LPA) of 471.5 mm till August 19 and falls under the category of large deficit regions.
“We had to delay the paddy transplantation by over a month due to the delay in monsoon. Many of us suffered losses. Now, the paddy which we have managed to transplant somehow is getting affected due to the lack of rain,” said Kuljeet Singh of the Katra area of Shahajahanpur district.
Experts say paddy farms ideally require to be inundated by at least a few inches of water for around a month after transplantation. Lack of rain leads to the growth of weed and affects the development of the plant.
The situation is particularly grim in East UP, where the rainfall is 50 per cent less than the LPA.
UP’s Farrukhabad has received 80 per cent less rainfall. Thirty-nine districts of UP have received less than 50 per cent rainfall.
In view of the situation, BJP MP Harish Dewedi and party MLA Vir Vikrama Singh have written to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, asking that Shahajahanpur, Basti and East UP be declared drought-hit.
This comes after the CM directed officials in July to prepare an action plan to counter rain deficit.
Officials at the district-level have been asked to maintain contact with farmers and agriculture scientists to provide correct information to farmers on ways to deal with the situation.
Relief Commissioner of Uttar Pradesh Ranvir Prasad said the government is monitoring the situation and it will be too early to declare drought.
“We are looking at every aspect of the monsoon closely and data is being collected on a daily basis. Rainfall has been less but it will be too early to announce drought because we are still in sowing season,” he said.
The officer said any decision on declaring drought will be taken as per laid down protocols after monsoon in October.
Till then, the departments concerned have been asked to make arrangements to ensure that farmers are able to irrigate their fields.
While officials claim to be making every effort to cancel the effect of less rainfall, farmers complain that nothing is being done on the ground.
“The canal near our farms runs dry. We don’t have enough money to pay for diesel to irrigate paddy. The only hope left is rain but the gods seems to be angry with us. We have been left to see our crops dying and worry about our future,” rued Mohan Chand Verma, a paddy farmer of Sitapur.