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Radar on rainfall deficit data

Patna, July 26: The state is not facing drought conditions at present but experts feel the situation is alarming.

According to figures with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), 16 out of the state’s 38 districts fulfil the criteria for facing meteorological drought — rainfall deficiency of 30 per cent or more.

Following a detailed presentation and deliberations over rainfall conditions and the ongoing kharif farming, the state cabinet late on Friday finally came to the conclusion that there is no drought condition right now.

The special cabinet meeting to discuss the drought scare was held on Friday after differences of opinion on the issue between chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and agriculture minister Narendra Singh.

“As per the central norms, drought condition is declared for a state when total rainfall received during June and July is less than 50 per cent of the average showers. However, the actual rainfall deficiency in Bihar at present is only 20 per cent. Moreover, drought condition is mostly declared in Bihar after assessing the conditions till August 15 as the transplantation phase of kharif paddy crop continues till then,” said a senior official of the agriculture department present in the meeting.

On Wednesday, Manjhi aired his anger at district magistrates at the Assembly and accused them of misleading him on the drought situation during a videoconference last Saturday. Manjhi said the DMs had told him that the rainfall deficiency was only 19 per cent and only two districts — Arwal and Buxar — reported drought.

Agriculture minister Narendra Singh, during a special hour-long debate in the Assembly on drought conditions yesterday, countered Manjhi. He said the rain deficiency is about 20 per cent and drought can be declared only if the deficiency is 50 per cent. The minister added that around 41 per cent sowing has taken place and it will continue till August.

Weathermen, however, have good news for tillers. “We are anticipating normal to above normal rainfall activity in Bihar from either Sunday night or Monday morning due to a low-pressure area over Bay of Bengal today,” said Ashish Sen, director, Patna Meteorological Centre.

On the other hand, agromet experts are quite worried. “There are many districts where the overall rainfall deficiency is not very high but we get reports of normal rainfall from some areas and extremely scanty rainfall from other areas for a number of days,” said I.B. Pandey, in-charge of the agromet department at Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa, Samastipur.