Atiq Khan

Proposal likely to get nod from Uttar Pradesh Government

LUCKNOW: In the chronically drought-hit Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh where natural rainfall over the past four years has been scarce, causing a severe drinking water and agrarian crisis, creating artificial rain through cloud seeding with the help of small airplanes is being seen as a viable alternative to obviate the people’s miseries. A similar experiment has yielded satisfactory results in Andhra Pradesh.

The proposal was submitted to the U.P. Government last month following a meeting between officials of the Agriculture Production Commissioner’s office, the State Irrigation Department and the Commissioner of Jhansi Division, P.V. Jaganmohan. The Government has accepted the proposal in principle.

Mr. Jaganmohan, who has authored the unique concept -- applicable when a cloud cover is available during the monsoon -- told The Hindu from Jhansi that the proposal has been approved by Chief Minister Mayawati and State Chief Secretary P.K. Mishra. “It is likely to be put up before the Cabinet,” said the Jhansi Division Commissioner.

With water sources drying up, the seven districts of Bundelkhand have been left at nature’s mercy, notwithstanding the steps taken by the Mayawati Government to partially offset the twin problems of water and food faced by the people of the region. Government agencies have projected that the water and agrarian crisis would become more acute this year if urgent measures are not taken soon and if the rainfall is again scanty.

Given the rain chart of Bundelkhand over the last four years, artificial rain is being perceived as the sole solution for enhancing the rainfall quotient in the region. The technique of cloud seeding involves burning of agriculture-friendly chemicals like calcium chloride and sodium chloride which are sprayed by small airplanes in the cloud cover over a 10-km range. “If it rains for about 30 to 60 minutes then about 80 per cent enhancement in rainfall can be expected,” added Mr. Jaganmohan.

However, the experiment cannot be successful without the involvement of the farmers. “The farmers would have to phone the nearest controlling station about the presence of a cloud cover for the operation to begin,” said R.G. Srivastava, Chief Engineer, Monitoring and Evaluation in the State Irrigation Department.

The March meeting decided to invite global tenders as the expertise for creating artificial rainfall is not available in India. It was also decided to create an awareness drive among the farmers by involving the gram pradhans.

Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Chitrakoot and Banda districts of Bundelkhand region were declared drought-hit in September last year.