Unrelenting heat wave, deficit rain hit normal life in N-E

GUWAHATI / AGARTALA:

Intense heat wave conditions and deficit pre-monsoon rains have hit normal life across the northeastern region and also severely affected the supply of drinking water, officials said.

However, agricultural experts said that at the moment there is no major threat to the seasonal crops.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the maximum temperature in several northeastern states, especially Assam, Mizoram and Tripura, since the past one week is hovering between 36 and 38 degrees Celsius - four to five degrees above the average for this summer season.

The IMD, since March 1, also recorded 38 per cent deficit pre-monsoon (March to May) rainfall in five of the eight northeastern states, including Sikkim.

The Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura meteorological sub-divisions recorded 38 per cent deficient pre-monsoon rainfall, while Assam and Meghalaya sub-divisions witnessed normal pre-monsoon rainfall.

According to an IMD document, Arunachal Pradesh recorded 321 mm rainfall and Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura recorded 181 mm rainfall against the average normal rainfall of 520 mm and 292 mm, respectively so far since March 1.

Sikkim and adjoining areas have recorded normal pre-monsoon rainfall since March 1.

IMD Director Dilip Saha said that the winds are not favourable for the expected pre-monsoon rainfall.

"We need southerly direction winds for the rain. Rain producing weather condition is yet to develop in the northeastern region. However, we expect some rains after mid-week," Saha told IANS.

The northeastern region comprising Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, normally witnesses normal or heavy rainfall during the four months of of the southwest monsoon - June to September.

Agricultural experts and the Director of Tripura government's Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department D. P. Sarkar said : "At the moment there is no threat for the first kharif crops as no drought-like situation has been created yet."

"The situation is manageable as irrigation facilities are active in most parts of the northeastern region," Sarkar told IANS.

However, experts of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have different views.

ICAR researchers Mallar Kanti Nath and Joyjit Das said crops and plants are suffering from water stress due to high evaporative loss of soil moisture and less precipitation.

"Due to scarcity of soil moisture plants suffer from severe wilting, plant cell looses turgidity. The seasonal crops need higher amount of water in comparison to other vegetable crops," Nath told IANS.

Das told IANS : "Because of water scarcity, yield potential of those seasonal crops is affected the most. On the other hand, farm animals are also suffering from heat shock."

The deficit in rainfall has also resulted in water scarcity, including supply of drinking water.

Tripura Drinking Water and Sanitation Department Chief Engineer Baishapayan Chakraborty said the department had been providing drinking water through tankers in the scarcity-prone areas as well as remote, isolated hamlets and tribal areas.

"We are setting up deep tube wells in the areas where the level of ground water has gone down, mostly in the hilly areas," Chakraborty told IANS.

Health departments in the region have been alerted and told to take precautionary measures besides organising special health camps to tackle seasonal diseases.