Monsoon Caravan Misses Gujarat, Reservoirs Run Low

Two months ago, the monsoon clouds covered the country and left many across India soaking with glee. The farmers could now sow their crop, the water levels in reservoirs and dams were rising and yes, the traffic was a nightmare in urban centres.

But, in Gujarat, particularly in Kutch region and Ahmedabad district, monsoon is yet to make its presence felt. Although south Gujarat and certain parts of Saurashtra have received good rainfall, Kutch, east-central Gujarat and north Gujarat remain relatively dry.

Gujarat received 457.32 mm rainfall till 9 August indicating a 45 percent deficit, with Kutch region receiving just 11.18 percent rainfall, north Gujarat receiving 28.56 percent, East-Central Gujarat receiving 41.37 percent (Ahmedabad receiving a paltry 21.85 percent) and Saurashtra receiving 59.99 percent of normal rainfall.

Only south Gujarat region received good rainfall with 74.7 percent till 9 August and 26 talukas out 251 across the state have received rainfall over 1,000 mm.

Sardar Sarovar is Running Low

The Gujarat government has stated that the water situation is grim as 44 tehsils in the state have received very little rain this monsoon (less than 5 inches or just 125 mm).

A statement released by the government blamed scanty rainfall in Madhya Pradesh that feeds the Narmada River. This reduced water levels in Sardar Sarovar dam.

"Due to scanty rainfall in the 1,200 km long catchment area of Narmada, water inflow is very little. Against the storage capacity of 5,760 million cubic meters (mcm), Sardar Sarovar dam has only 102 mcm water, just two percent of its holding capacity," said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.

The situation was equally grim in the case of other major dams, including Ukai in South Gujarat and Dharoi and Kadana in north and Central Gujarat, he added.

Ukai Dam in Surat.

During a review meeting on Tuesday, 7 August, CM Vijay Rupani ordered an immediate release of 500 million cubic feet (mcft) of water from Sardar Sarovar dam to fill up Tappar Dam in Kutch district. Rupani also ordered for relief measures such as an additional two hours of electricity supply for farms to save the crops and supply of fodder at Rs 2 per kg in dry areas.

"Though rain lashed south Gujarat and parts of Saurashtra in the initial spell, it has stopped since then. Kutch region, north and central Gujarat have received negligible rainfall. We will give priority to people’s needs and reserve water for drinking purposes for now. However, we are confident that people will not face any difficulty as the monsoon is not over yet." - Nitin PatelFarmers’ Situation Remains Grim

According to Jayesh Patel, president of the Gujarat Farmers’ Association, the harvest of kharif crop will not be affected much. However, the rabi crop will suffer if water in the dams is less.

"If the water in the dams such as Ukai and Sardar Sarovar goes down, then there is no way to irrigate the rabi crops, which will be harvested next year around summer. In Saurashtra, crops dependent on monsoon such as groundnut and cotton may also give poor yield. Besides, the yield of sugarcane crop in south Gujarat will be poor this year because very little water was available for irrigation earlier during summers." - Jayesh Patel

According to Patel, the government’s incentive to increase power supply by two hours is ineffective. “They can supply power for 24 hours but it wouldn’t matter if there is no water to irrigate the fields,” he said.

IMD Blames Lack of Low Pressure Systems

Through July, Ahmedabad remained overcast yet dry. Jayanta Sarkar, Director of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in Gujarat, told The Quint that Ahmedabad did not fall under a rain shadow region.

The satellite image of monsoon presence over India on 9 August at 6.30 AM.

"The entire belt of Banaskatha, Sabarkatha, Gandhinagar, Mehsana, Patan, Ahmedabad, Morbi Kutch has witnessed low rainfall. This is due to lack of low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal. Ideally in the month of July there should have been 4-5 low pressure systems in the bay but we only saw two. In August only one system developed and it too has fizzled out. This why north Gujarat, Northern Saurashtra and Kutch are not receiving rainfall." - Jayanta Sarkar

However, he did add, “Presently, there is a cyclonic circulation in south east Rajasthan and north Gujarat Region and these provided much relief to Ahmedabad yesterday after days of overcast conditions. We expect that the rainfall activity will continue today also in Saurashtra and Kutch Region.”

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