Short essay on Drought Management in India

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The drought-prone area assessed in the country is of the order of 51.12 Mha. The planning and management of the effects of drought appear to have a low priority due to associated randomness and uncertainty in defining the start and end of droughts. Further, most of the drought planning and management schemes are generally launched after persisting drought conditions.

The traditional system of drought monitoring and estimating losses by crop cutting needs replacement with real time remote sensing, GIS, GPS and modeling techniques for ensuring transparency and quick response. Scope of losses may be extended to groundwater depletion, damage to perennial trees, plantations, orchards and depletion infertility of livestock. Food, Toddler, agricultural inputs and water banks may be established in vulnerable areas instead of their storage in surplus regions to avoid transport bottlenecks during the drought.

Robust and rainfall independent off-farm livelihood opportunities may be targeted in the drought mitigation strategy. Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater, aquifer recharge and watershed management with community participation is another important policy paradigm shift to be internalized fully.

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After normal rainfall resumes there is a rapid decrease of government and public interest in drought-planning schemes. Most of the time the execution of the drought management scheme is based on the administrative units, while planning of water resources is based on basin scale.

Therefore, an integrated basin development approach is required to be developed and implemented for preparing the drought management plan before, during and after the occurrence of the drought. In this regard, there is a need for the development of the decision support systems (DSS) for the monitoring and management of the drought on basin scale utilizing the advanced capabilities of remote sensing, geographical information system and knowledge based systems.

The DSS should also provide support to the decision makers for providing the information at different spatial and temporal scales.

It would help them in taking the required management measures in the drought- prone areas for different administrative units. In the drought-prone areas, publication campaign may be launched for water conservation with the help of electronic and print media. Necessary steps may be taken at political, administrative and technical levels to encourage people participation in the drought management for optimum utilization of the available water supply to meet the demands.

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Strengthening of R&D and capacity building in terms of emerging information technologies and issues of damages is also called upon to bring in resilience in the drought coping strategies.

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