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April 04, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

Drought might impact GDP growth

Drought might impact GDP growth

Publsihed: Thursday, 5 May, 2016 11:20 AM

Drought might impact GDP growth

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Read General Awareness Topic:  Drought might impact GDP growth

With several parts of India reeling under drought for the past two years, primarily due to bad monsoon, the focus has shifted to a precious resource- water and its conservation. With nearly 10 states and over 30 crore people impacted by the drought, in particular farmers, the impact on the economic growth of the country is inevitable.

India is dependent on monsoons to meet its water requirements, in particular the agriculture sector. A good monsoon ensures a good yield and eases the pressure on the economy.However, a bad monsoon severely impacts the financial health of a country like India. An Assocham report points out that a five per cent deficit in rains could have a bearing on economic growth by 1.75% or 1,80,000 crore, hurting lakhs of jobs in unskilled sectors. In the last 40 years, India has seen five severe droughts, in 1972, a rainfall deficit of 24%, deficit of 19% each in 1979, 1987 and 2002. Together, they have pulled back India’s GDP growth by 2.10%.

The rural areas, most of which depend on ground water bear the brunt of a weak monsoon. Farmers, specifically, are dependent on rainfall for their crops, absence of which destroys their crops and pushes them into misery. Maharashtra, for instance, has seen 3228 farmer suicides, due to poor monsoon for the second straight year.Areas of Marathwada have been facing severe drought conditions.

This happens because there is no other source of water than rain. We get around 70-80% of our water in the months of monsoon. This unhealthy reliance on monsoon points to the necessity of capturing and storing the water. Since it is difficult to accurately predict monsoon, steps need to be taken to ensure that water is stored efficiently. There are many examples of kings and common people in ancient times making provisions to harvest water in reservoirs and pond. But, this seems to be missing from today’s ‘planned’ cities.

Global warming is responsible for rise in temperatures, as also the variations in the patterns of the monsoon. The 3-4 monsoon months see erratic rainfall, which serves no purpose. A consistent monsoon spread over time and areas is crucial. Not only should the monsoon be good but it should also be distributed evenly across areas. 

Considering the serious impact of drought on the economic growth of the country, water conservation needs to be the primary concern of everyone. Due to change in weather patterns, experts note that the days of gentle rainfall are coming down and excessive rainfall are increasing, as the flash floods in Kedarnath reveal. It will be difficult to stop water when it comes with a great force. Therefore, we need to invest in ever smaller structures. Especially when the times are good, one needs to invest in water conservation systems for the future. Studies have shown that farmers who fixed their water conservation systems like ponds are doing well in the drought. Without water conservation, it is not possible to have sustainable lives.

The government has been willing to mobilise resources during drought. But unless places like Marathwada don’t invest in structures that hold water and keep relying on ground water (without replenishing it), they will continue to face serious crisis year after year. The government, too, is contemplating to bring water to the Concurrent List from the State List which will allow the Centre to develop water conservation seamlessly and also deal effectively with inter-state river issues.The only silver lining for now is that the monsoon prediction for the current year is bright.

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