By Sujit Chakraborty
Guwahati/Agartala, Sep 1 (IANS) The four month long monsoon has so far been erratic in the mountainous northeastern region. Four of the eight northeastern states, including Assam, have received excess rain while the remaining four reported a deficit.
According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) scientists, the erratic monsoon is likely to affect both the kharif and rabi crops in the region.
According to the records of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), till August 31, Sikkim recorded plus (excess) 65 per cent rain, Meghalaya plus 19 per cent, Arunachal Pradesh plus 6 per cent and Assam plus 5 per cent. Manipur recorded minus (deficit) 49 per cent rainfall, Mizoram minus 30 per cent, Nagaland minus 26 per cent and Tripura minus 18 per cent.
According to IMD officials and experts, the four-month long southwest monsoon (June-September) is in full swing in most parts of the hilly northeastern region which in most years recorded a good monsoon.
IMD scientist Ranjan Phukan said as the monsoon trough was active along the foothills of the Himalayas, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya experienced good and heavy monsoon rains. “Until the first half of the monsoon, it was good rainfall in four northeastern states. One after another low pressure in Bay of Bengal, the monsoon trough and related wind condition moved to eastern and central India region skipping the northeastern states causing less rainfall in various states,” Phukan told IANS over the phone.
As per the IMD rainfall data from June 1 till August 31, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim recorded 1277.2 mm, 1,451.5 mm, 2834.4 mm, 2129.1 mm rainfall respectively, against the normal of 1213.8 mm, 1375.1 mm, 2381.1 mm, and 1291.1 mm. During this period (June 1 to August 31), Manipur witnessed the highest rainfall deficit by recording 584.4 mm against the normal 1144.1 mm, while Mizoram registered 898.8 mm against 1287.8 mm, Nagaland 682.1 mm against 922.1 mm and Tripura received 992.8 mm against the normal rainfall of 1203.7 mm.
According to the disaster management officials, monsoon floods and landslides have claimed 140 lives in Assam, 10 in Arunachal Pradesh, seven in Meghalaya and one in Tripura.
The ICAR’s Principal Scientist Shankar Prashad Das said that the erratic monsoon would affect the kharif crops in the northeastern region. “During the tillering stage of the crop the short rainfall would affect the production and otherwise. Distribution of rain is very erratic in the region. The deficient rainfall would affect the crops in Mizoram followed by Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura,” Das told IANS.
According to Das the reproduction phase of the crops would also be affected in the northeastern region due to the unreliable rainfall.
Like the previous years, Assam this year too witnessed devastating floods that killed 113 people in 22 districts, while 26 others were killed in landslides since May 22. With respite from the monsoon rains, the situation improved significantly in the first week of August even as 57 lakh people have been affected in 5,378 villages in 30 of the state’s 33 districts.
According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials, a total of 2,65,402 hectares of crops in 30 districts were badly affected while the worst-hit 11 districts are Goalpara, Morigaon, Bongaigaon, Dhemaji, Baksa, Nagaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Sonitpur, Jorhat and Kamrup.
The floods also badly hit domestic and wild animals in various sanctuaries and national parks including the world-famous Kaziranga National Park, where 18 rhinos and 135 wild animals died due to the deluge.
Kaziranga National Park Director Karmashree P. Sivakumar said that 172 wild animals have been rescued from the flood waters, even though over 95 per cent of the park remained inundated until July 23. “Last year, 263 animals, including many endangered rhinos, were killed in floods while 169 animals were rescued…all-out efforts are being made to take care of the animals in the entire Kaziranga National Park,” Sivakumar told IANS over phone. The animals that perished this year in the Park include 18 rhinos, 107 hog deer, 12 wild boars, six wild buffaloes, four porcupines and three swamp deer. The 172 rescued animals include three rhinos, 120 hog deer, 31 pythons and four cobras.
Various NGOs and individuals including Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar have donated money and provided relief material to the flood-affected people.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])