Valley still facing drought

Valley still facing drought
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SRINAGAR: The rainfall that Kashmir Valley received intermittently in the past one-and-a-half month will not reduce the conditions of drought that were declared by the state government earlier this year.
Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Mir Mohammad Shahnawaz told Kashmir Reader that the rain received has only provided temporary succour to farmers. He said if the rainfall continues in the same pattern, the drought will not go.
“Water level at Sangam in river Jehlum has been at the lowest. The recent rainfall had added water by two feet, but it sustained for only two days. Once there was sunshine, the water level reached back to three feet, which is far less than required for farmers,” Shahnawaz said.
During April, both plains and higher reaches in Kashmir received rainfall intermittently. It was against the prediction of the weather department that April would be dry. The irrigation department, which monitors the water levels in rivers and lakes, is still saying that the rainfall was not enough for the cultivation of paddy, the staple crop in Kashmir.
“The rain required for paddy is needed the most in June and July. It comes from the snow and rainfall received in winter months. Since there was dry spell during winter this year and less rainfall during spring, and as there is no imminent possibility of additional rainfall, it makes no change in the drought situation in the Valley,” Shahnawaz said.
The prevailing conditions will affect the cultivation of paddy and take a toll on the food deficit, which at present is 24 percent, as per the figure of the agriculture department. The state government has already asked farmers to cultivate some alternative crop which needs less water. The government will likely have to procure additional food from outside to meet the local demand. The agriculture department has already constituted a team to prepare an action plan.
“Sustained rainfall was required during April, May, June and July. The first two months have almost gone dry,” Shahnawaz said of the requirement of the paddy crop.
“As there is no certainty of rainfall in the coming months, farmers should plant an alternate crop,” he added.
Average snowfall and rainfall for preventing drought conditions has to be 198.2mm from December to February, but this winter it has been less than 40mm.