Bihar caught between flooding due to heavy rainfall and spectre of drought

Even as incessant rainfall and rivers in spate have flooded large parts of north Bihar, spectre of drought is looming over some other parts of the state due to abysmally low rains.

The state received 401 mm of rainfall against the normal of 342 mm from June 1 to July 15, and yet farmers of many districts are unable to transplant paddy in their fields due to low rainfall.

Despite widespread monsoon, 18 of 38 districts in the state are still facing noticeable deficit of rains that has hampered crop coverage in the state.

Rain deficiency is more pronounced in districts like Begusarai, Rohtas and Sheikhpura, which witnessed about 55% and 48% less than normal rainfall till July 15.

Other districts that saw 30-40% deficiency of rains are Gaya, Jehanabad, Arwal, Nawada, Jamui and Banka.

No wonder that coverage of paddy this year could so far reach barely 19% of the targeted of plantation on 3.30 lakh hectares till July 15.

Sowing of maize is, however, better as compared to paddy as it requires less water.

Maize coverage has reached 57.76% of the total targeted coverage on 4.24 lakh hectares during the same period.

The deluge caused by rivers originating in Nepal had left farmers of north Bihar districts in a quandary. Saplings of paddy and maize they had planted a few weeks ago got washed away when torrential waters of various rivers swamped the fields after breaching embankments at various places.

Also Read | Bihar flood toll at 33, CM Nitish Kumar says Rs 6,000 aid to each affected family

Over 25.66 lakh population of 546 out of 8463 panchayats of 77 of 543 blocks of 12 districts are reeling under the floods.

Out of the total 38, only five districts, Sheohar, East Champaran, West Champaran, Sitamarhi and Katihar, have seen paddy transplant coverage reaching 45-60% of the target. However, all these districts are currently facing floods.

Crop coverage of paddy in other rice producing districts such as Bhojpur, Rohtas, Buxar, Bhabua, Nalanda, Nawada, Arwal, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Bhagalpur and Banka was reported less than 10% of the target.

Agriculture minister Prem Kumar said the state was caught in a difficult situation as some parts of it had been flooded while other parts were facing a drought-like situation.

“Loss of crop would be assessed later in the inundated regions. The government has launched the scheme for providing diesel subsidy to farmers to ensure paddy transplantation in rest of the state. A sum of Rs 300 crore has been sanctioned for the purpose,” said the minister.

First Published:
Jul 17, 2019 14:26 IST

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