Kerala gears up for drought as NE monsoon fails

Rainfall deficit of 62 %, grim weather forecast

November 28, 2016 09:56 pm | Updated 09:56 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

Kerala is gearing up to tackle drought conditions following scanty rainfall during the first half of the Northeast monsoon and a grim outlook by weathermen.

The State registered a rainfall deficit of 62 per cent during the period from October 1 to November 23, receiving only 162 mm of rainfall against a normal of 427.9 mm. Kozhikode, Kasaragod, and Thiruvananthapuram districts are the worst affected.

Kozhikode registered the highest rainfall deficit of 87 per cent, followed by Kasaragod (85), Thiruvananthapuram (80), Kannur (78), and Wayanad (76).

The lowest deficit was registered in Pathanamthitta (24), Kollam (31), and Ernakulam (38), according to the season’s rainfall figures released by the India Meteorology Department.

With large parts of the State facing parched conditions, the government has initiated drought-mitigation measures, with the focus on addressing water shortage.

The State Disaster Management Authority has launched a project to set up water kiosks in all wards.

Drinking water needs

“The priority is to ensure access to fresh and safe drinking water for all households. We expect to have a State-wide network of kiosks in place by early January,” says Sekhar L.Kuriakose, Member Secretary, SDMA.

District Collectors have been asked to assess the requirement of water kiosks and report to the SDMA. A kiosk comprises a water tank of 10,000 to 20,000 litres constantly supplied with fresh water certified by the Kerala Water Authority or Food Safety Department and transported in specially contracted tankers.

A meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary last week also decided to step up drought-mitigation measures to minimise man-animal conflicts along forest boundaries.

The meeting resolved to conserve water sources and create new waterholes for animals inside forests. Planting of fodder and improvement of fire lines in forests will also be taken up.

Meanwhile, the IMD has forecast below normal rainfall up to December 8. According to the weather outlook issued by the department, the prevailing La Nina conditions and the slightly negative phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are not favourable for the Northeast monsoon.

The observations are at sharp variance with the operational forecast issued by the IMD in September, which had predicted normal (90 to 100 per cent of LPA) rainfall for Kerala during the Northeast monsoon period from October to December.

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