Fear of another drought looms large in Bihar

Patna, The fear of another drought is giving sleepless nights to farmers in Bihar as an official said that if the state receives 19 percent less than normal rainfall till the end of this week, there could be a possibility of a drought-like situation.

Satender Singh and his co-villager Mahesh Mahto are worried about the poor monsoon till date. They are both farmers in Arwal district and fear another drought this year as the state received 18 percent less than the normal rainfall so far.

"It is difficult to say or predict weather, but the rain gods are giving us sleepless nights this time like last year. Going by the poor rainfall, we may face another drought this year," Satender Singh said.

Satender Singh is among the millions of farmers, nearly two-thirds of Bihar's population of 10.5 crore, who are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

Not only that, nearly two-thirds of all agricultural activities in the state are dependent on rain.

Therefore, for most of the state's population, a good monsoon is often the difference between life and death.

"We are praying to god for a normal monsoon this time," Mahesh Mahto said.

He said the weak monsoon has affected the plantation of paddy. "Look, sowing of paddy is badly hit and less rainfall has impacted transplantation of the paddy crops," he said.

Sailesh Kumar, an agriculture department official, said if the state would receive 19 percent less than the normal rainfall till the end of this week, there could be a possibility of a drought-like situation.

"So far, there is no drought-like situation and the agriculture department is monitoring the situation closely," Sailesh Kumar said.

According to the India Meteorological Department office in Patna, nearly 70 percent of Bihar's districts, 22 out of 38, are facing a drought-like situation due to poor rainfall.

"In these districts, rainfall deficit is from 21 to 73 percent till Wednesday," R.D. Giri, an official said.

However, Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi Thursday told reporters here that the state government is ready to tackle any drought-like situation in Bihar.

"Currently, there is no drought-like situation but fear is increasing among farmers in view of the less than normal rainfall in the state," he said.

Manjhi said the government is ready with a contingency plan to face any situation and to provide necessary help to the farmers.

Last year, the Bihar government declared 33 of the 38 districts drought-hit due to a rainfall deficit of nearly 25 percent.

The monsoon usually hits the state between June 14 and 18.

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