U.P. Rains impact: Loss of life, infrastructure, and crops

The state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been struggling with torrential downpour in the last two weeks, after a drought-like period in July and August. As per data by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the state has recorded 513 per cent more rainfall than normal. In the first week of October, the actual rainfall for […]

The state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been struggling with torrential downpour in the last two weeks, after a drought-like period in July and August. As per data by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the state has recorded 513 per cent more rainfall than normal. In the first week of October, the actual rainfall for UP was 38.9 millimetres (mm) against normal rainfall of 13.0 mm, which was above the normal of Long Period Average (LPA) by 199 per cent. Three districts of India’s largest state recorded 10,000 per cent more rainfall than normal in just 24 hours on 5th October. As per news reports, over 25 lakh people have been affected by the excessive rainfall, with around 1,370 villages across 18 districts experiencing major flooding. As per the government, so far 18 people have died due to rain-related incidents – drowning, snake bites, and lightning. Schools and educational institutes across various districts in the state have been shut, while infrastructure in several districts, including bridges and buildings, has also collapsed. Many hospitals have reported waterlogging in their buildings, affecting people’s access to medical services and life-saving healthcare. In addition to this, the rain has also greatly impacted agricultural produce and crops. The damage to key summer crops such as rice and soy bean during the critical period of the harvest season is also likely to affect food inflation in the country.

Agricultural production and farming

The agricultural sector is one of the key contributors to the state economy of UP and roughly 65 per cent of the total population of the state is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The excessive rains have damaged crops across 30 districts in the state. UP is the second largest producer of rice in the country but harvest quality and crop yield are likely to suffer due to excessive rainfall. Farmers in India usually plant summer crops in June to July, as the monsoon arrives, and start harvesting the crop from mid-September. As per this crop cycle, crops in many areas were ready for gathering or had already been gathered and left in the fields to dry, which have now been damaged by the excessive rainfall. The rainfall has also inundated fields, causing damage to standing paddy, maize, and freshly cultivated potato crop. The potato crop in the state is sown by the end of September. Water logging in farmlands which have already been prepped for potato cultivation is causing further distress to farmers.
Sugarcane, another major crop from the state, and one that requires high amounts of water, was affected by winds that succeeded the heavy rains. The crop that was already in the ripening stage, and ready for the November harvest, fell, causing widespread losses to the farmers. As per news reports published on 13th October, three farmers died of heart attacks after the shock of damage to their crops.
Overall the monsoon season has been lacklustre. As per data by the IMD, UP witnessed 30 per cent less rainfall than usual. The lack of rainfall overall affected the production of kharif crops.
Kharif crops, or monsoon crops, are cultivated from May to June onwards and harvested from September to October. Major kharif crops include rice, maize, and cotton and require good rainfall to be cultivated. Rabi crops on the other hand, are winter crops, and do not require much water to be cultivated. Major rabi crops in India are wheat, barley, mustard, sesame, and peas. For the 2022-23 kharif season the target for crop cover in the state was 96.03 lakh hectares. In 2021-22, the crop cover was 98.9 lakh hectares. However, this year, the kharif crop could only be sown on 93.22 lakh hectares which was 97.7 per cent of the target. Officials from the state Agriculture Department have indicated that paddy production might drop by around 20 per cent due to the overall rain deficit this monsoon. Millets like bajra and pulses like urad have also been affected.

Government measures and response

Last week, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, set up a high-level meeting to lay out a plan to help mitigate the effects of the disaster. He issued directions to deploy National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), and Pradeshik Armed Constabulary teams for relief and rescue work.The government has directed officials to distribute permissible monetary relief to the families of the deceased and provide proper treatment to those that have been injured due to the excessive rainfall, lightning, and drowning.
Taking note of the fact that the Rapti and Saryu (Ghaghra) rivers were flowing above the danger mark, officials have been asked to ensure continuous monitoring of the water level of rivers. Additionally, bringing attention to the spread of various water-borne and mosquito-borne diseases as well as high instances of snake bites in flood affected areas, the government has instructed the setting up of health camps near all relief camps. The Chief Minister has also urged the revenue and agriculture department teams to conduct thorough surveys in all districts and assess the damage so that farmers can be compensated accordingly.

Excessive rainfall across Indian states

According to data by the IMD, most states across North India received excessive rainfall in September. UP recorded 31 per cent more rainfall than normal, Punjab 24 per cent, and Himachal Pradesh 13 per cent. Haryana, Delhi, and Uttarakhand recorded a major increase in rainfall than normal at 82 per cent, 42 per cent, and 47 per cent, respectively. The increasing trend has aggressively continued in the first two weeks of October. In total, India received 57.3 mm of rainfall as against the average of 34.3 mm between 1st and 10th October and according to the IMD.
Northeastern states, including Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh recorded a deficit in rainfall in the month of September. However, these states have also received excessive rainfall in the first two weeks of October, reversing this trend. Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, and Sikkim have recorded excessive rainfall in the first two weeks of October. Incessant rains and resultant landslides in the Himalayan state of Sikkim left 200 tourists stranded and affected piped water supply to the capital Gangtok.
The flood situation in Assam has also worsened under the impact of incessant rain that lashed several districts and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh. There has been no loss of life yet, but 110 villages of 11 revenue circles in five districts have been affected so far, according to a report of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA).
In the southern and central regions as well, there were a few states which recorded excessive rainfall. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Telangana, and Karnataka were a few of these.
The trend has continued in the first two weeks of October. The rain situation in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has thrown life out of gear in some parts of the states. While several areas in Karnataka were reported to be inundated, schools were ordered shut in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupathur due to rainfall. Roads in Karnataka’s Dharwad have been inundated due to heavy rains, while cars, autos and tractors were submerged in water due to heavy rainfall in the Chitradurga district. As many rivers in Karnataka are in spate, the state government has taken humanitarian measures including setting up improved relief camps and proper compensation to those who lost members of their families, properties, livestock, and crops in the floods.