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Explained: Why Punjab, Haryana need well-distributed rain more than overall rainfall surplus

Getting well-distributed normal rainfall during the monsoon period in Punjab and Haryana states is important because both states are key rice producers in the country.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | July 30, 2020 11:20:20 am
punjab, haryana, southwest monsoon, monsoon news, monsoon forecast, punjab rainfall, punjab paddy cultivation, haryana monsoon forecast, haryana paddy An elderly farmer works in a paddy field on a hot summer day in Amritsar, Thursday, July 2, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Despite some districts in Punjab and Haryana recording above normal and excessive rain during the ongoing monsoon period, around 51 per cent of districts of both the states are still parched. Such uneven distribution of rainfall is not good news for the region. The Indian Express explains why well-distributed rainfall means a lot for both the states.

How much of the monsoon season is over in Punjab and Haryana?

Even though monsoon hits the region mostly in fourth week of the June, but the India Metrological Department (IMD) considers four months from June to September as a monsoon period in Punjab. June is a period when the region gets quite good pre-monsoon showers due to the coming of Western disturbances. As per IMD, already nearly half of the monsoon period (June and July) is over now.

How much rain has been received in Punjab and Haryana this year so far?

The cumulative rainfall in Punjab so far has been recorded at 209.2 mm against the normal 207.2 mm, which means 2 mm (1 per cent) more than required. In Haryana too, it is 191.9 mm till date against the required normal 189.4 mm which means 2.5 mm (1 per cent) more. But there are 22 districts out of total 43 districts in both states (11 in each state) where deficit rain has been recorded. In Punjab, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Mansa, and Tarn Taran got 56 per cent, 40 per cent, 37 per cent, and 36 per cent deficit rain, respectively. Ferozepur, Nawanshahr, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Mohali, and Ludhiana districts also recorded deficit rain. On the flip side, there are districts like Sangrur (87 per cent surplus ran), Mukatsar (72 per cent), Faridkot (71 per cent), Barnala (57 per cent), Fatehgarh Sahib (51 per cent), Kapurthala (43 per cent), and Bathinda (34 per cent) which have got excessive rain during this monsoon season so far.

In Haryana too, the districts like Panchkula (65 per cent less), Rohtak (52 per cent less), Ambala (49 per cent less), Mahendergarh (48 per cent less), Mewat (47 per cent less), Rewari (36 per cent less), and Palwal (33 per cent less) received deficit rain.

Here too some districts got excessive rain which including Kaithal with 106 per cent surplus rain, Kurukshetra with 63 per cent surplus, Karnal with 62 per cent surplus, Sirsa recording 48 per cent surplus rain.

punjab, haryana, southwest monsoon, monsoon news, monsoon forecast, punjab rainfall, punjab paddy cultivation, haryana monsoon forecast, haryana paddy Labourers work in a paddy field at Gunowal village on the outskirts of Amritsar. (Reuters Photo: Munish Sharma)

Why is well-distributed rain, both time-wise and area-wise, more important than overall surplus rain?

Getting well-distributed normal rainfall during the monsoon period in Punjab and Haryana states is important because both states are key rice producers in the country. Paddy sowing in both the states starts in June. The first two months of the crop are quite crucial. Transplanting consumes huge quantities of water. The field in which transplantation takes place has to be puddled (tilling with standing water) first. For the first three weeks after transplanting, plants have to be irrigated almost daily to ensure water-logged conditions at 2-3 inches. But farmers keep the crop submerged underwater for 4-5 weeks. For the next 5-6 weeks, the crop has to be irrigated every 2-3 days to prevent the growth of weeds by denying them oxygen in submerged state. After about 60 to 65 days, when there is no threat from weeds, the irrigation is done once a week.

With Punjab and Haryana growing rice on some 40 to 41 lakh hectares (LH), the water guzzling non-basmati varieties take a huge toll on the groundwater resources in the absence of well-distributed rainfall.

Also, surplus rain may be good for paddy in the first two to three months of the crop but not for other crops like cotton, which is also Kharif seasons crop.

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Why rain was not well distributed in the region in the first two months of the rainy season?

According to Dr Prabhjot Kaur, the head of the Department for Climate Change and Agricultural Meteorology, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, Punjab gets its well-distributed monsoon rain when there are strong winds, which draw their moisture from two water bodies.

“If the winds from the Bay of Bengal are stronger then North East districts like Gurdaspur, Pathankot, etc. of Punjab will get more rain and when the Western Disturbances are strong then more rain will be witnessed in South West districts of the state. As for as Central districts of the state we need to have strong winds from both sides,” said Dr Prabhjot Kaur, adding that in Punjab usually three to four Western Disturbances come in the monsoon season and this year in July month two such were witnessed when there was more rain in the South West districts, which included Bathinda, Faridkot.

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