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Hot & hungry in India, 100 years on

New Delhi, Sept. 8: A hotter, wetter country with less food and greenery but more malaria patients.

That’s India a century from now, says a team of Indian and British researchers.

The findings of the Indo-UK programme on the impact of climate change in India were released by Union environment and forests minister A. Raja and UK minister of state for trade Ian Pearson today.

The three-year study predicts higher temperatures and more rain in the country. The sharpest rise in rainfall, between 10 per cent and 30 per cent, will occur over central India.

Towards the end of the 21st century, temperatures are likely to increase by as much as 3 to 4 degrees Celsius. The warming will happen across the country, but will be more pronounced in northern India.

The heat and rain, combined with other changes ' for instance, in radiation and carbon dioxide levels ' will hit rain-fed or unirrigated crops, which cover nearly 60 per cent of the country’s croplands. Yield will decrease and there will be less food.

The warmer regions can expect greater wheat crop loss. In addition to this, the higher temperatures and decreased radiation levels are predicted to reduce rice yields, especially in the east.

The study predicts more rain with higher intensities in all the three river basins ' Krishna, Ganga and Godavari ' towards the end of the century.

The climate changes are likely to lengthen the life of mosquitoes and thus increase the incidence of diseases like malaria.

Within 50 years, the forests will be feeling the heat. About 70 per cent of the country’s vegetation is likely to find itself less adapted than before to its environment, thus becoming more vulnerable to adverse climate and other stresses.

The characters of the forests, too, are likely to change with their bio-diversity severely affected.

The research was jointly undertaken by the Indian environment ministry and the British department of environment, food and rural affairs. Help came from leading research institutes, such as the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune; Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi; National Institute of Oceanography, Goa; Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pune; Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; and National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi.

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