Time Bomb Ticking
The Annual Report 2019-20 of the Reserve Bank of India (released in August, 2020) (please click here to access the report) has made some observations about extreme weather events and the environment. They are as follows:
• Consistent with models of climate change, the number of dry days as well as days with extremely high levels of rainfall have increased in India - more intense droughts; downward shifts in average rainfall by 59 mm since 2000; higher frequency of cyclones - India was hit by 8 cyclones in 2019 which is the highest since 1976; high variation in the number of subdivisions receiving excess/ normal and deficient/ scanty monsoon rains; and an increase in the extent of crop area damaged due to unseasonal rains and heavy floods. Please click here to see the relevant charts.
• Global warming has also led to a sharp rise in the annual average temperature in India by 1.8°C between 1997 and 2019 as compared to a 0.5°C increase between 1901 and 2000. This has likely caused a decline in crop yields, undermining farm income. Please click here to consult the relevant charts.
• Water tables have depleted at an alarming rate, with around 52 percent of the wells in India recording decline in water levels between the years 2008 and 2018. This imparts urgency to move from flood irrigation to micro irrigation methods like drip or hose reel, which can save up to 60 percent of the water used and also help in preventing pest incidence. At present, the coverage of micro irrigation is much lower in states which have recorded higher declines in water tables. Alongside, there is a need to adopt crop cycles, credit cycles and procurement patterns to monsoonal shifts. Please click here to consult the relevant charts.