The southwest monsoon season for 2023 ‘’officially’’ ended on September 30 and the cumulative rainfall in the State from June 1 to September 30 was 642 mm against a normal of 852 mm with the deficiency being 25%.
All the 31 districts received rainfall below the long period average leaving the State under a spell of drought.
Highest deficiency in Malnad
Among the different regions, Malnad districts experienced 39% deficiency while there was 27% deficiency in south interior Karnataka regions. The coastal belt and north interior Karnataka have a cumulative deficiency of 19% in what is reckoned to be one of the weakest monsoons in recent years.
The 11 districts comprising south interior Karnataka has received 271 mm of rainfall against a normal of 369 mm and the worst affected among them include Ramanagara, Chitradurga, Davangere, Chamarajanagar, Mysuru, and Mandya, as per the rainfall figures updated by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC).
What numbers don’t tell
But these figures don’t tell the complete picture of the extent of drought as above normal rain was received during July and it has statistically helped bridge the deficiency.
The onset of south west monsoon during June began on a weak note and it did not gain traction till July. The State-wide deficiency for June was 56% as it received only 87 mm of rain against a normal of 199 mm and the July downpour helped bridge this gap.
Abundance in July
The cumulative rainfall in the State for July was 348 mm against a normal of 271 mm and the departure was 28% above normal. The rainfall across all the regions in the State baring the districts of Ramanagara, Kolar, and Chickballapur in south interior Karnataka, received rain that was higher than the long period average. But August and September turned the scenario grim once again forcing the government to declare 195 taluks as drought-affected.
During August, monsoon played truant again and the State received only 60 mm of rain against a normal of 220 mm which is 73% below normal with 29 of the 31 districts coming under ‘’large deficit’’ category of KSNDMC, which translates to a shortfall of over 60% underlining the gravity of the situation.
This is also evident in the reservoir levels at Linganamakki, Supa, Varahi, KRS, Hemavathi, Tungabhadra, Malaprabha, Alamatti, and Narayanapura dams, which according to KSNDMC are less when compared to the corresponding periods of the last 10 years.
The State has 3,673 minor irrigation tanks of which only 30% had storages more than 50% of the capacity while in case of 60% of the tanks the storage was between 30% and 50%. The remaining tanks were dry or had insufficient storage to make a difference to agriculture.
There have been instances when the retreating monsoon coupled with low depression in the seas have created conditions for rains. While such a development will help shore up storage levels in the reservoir, it will make little difference to the farmers whose standing crops withered during the growth and the mature stage due to moisture stress.