State says 59.9% rainfall, IMD says 73%: Highlights and discrepancies of Maharashtra’s Monsoon 2015

30th September marks the end of June-September South West summer monsoon in India and Maharashtra. The 2015 summer monsoon has proved to be the worst monsoon in the last six years for India. Rainfall deficits are seen in all major food-producing regions like UP (47% deficit), Bihar (28% deficit), Punjab and Haryana (32% deficit). This is India’s second successive year of high rainfall deficit, and only the fourth time this has happened since 1901.

1

Monsoon retreats from the country and the states on various dates. Some welcome showers are falling and are further expected in Maharashtra in the coming weeks, but the summer monsoon figures are now set. According to meteorologist Akshay Deoras. “Rain counters are refreshed on 1st October and new count of post monsoon season or winter monsoon season will start now.”

First week of October calls for an analysis of the summer monsoon, its performance in June, July, August and September and the implications this holds for various sectors.

People of Maharashtra have heard about, seen and experienced the dismal monsoon of 2015. Marathwada fared the worst, and was number one deficit state in the country at 52% deficit for a long time. However, at the end of monsoon, deficit of Marathwada is 40%. This is more worrisome as it comes piggybacking the 42% rainfall deficit in Marathwada in 2014, with rainfall of just 398.8 mm.

But, in order to understand the situation better, if one tries to analyse rainfall figures from various reputed official sources, one is taken aback by the disparities. We looked at official Indian Meteorological Department[i] figures, official Maharashtra Agriculture Department[ii] (Rainfall Recording and Analysis) figures and numbers from the 49th Cabinet Committee Note of the Government of Maharashtra dated 30th September 2015 accessed by SANDRP[iii].

All are concerned with Monsoon rainfall from 1-6-2015 to 30-9-2015. All of these contain different figures!

Indian Meteorological Department: IMD generates its rainfall data for Maharashtra based on its approximately 878 rain gauging stations spread across the state[iv]. According to IMD, regions of Maharashtra fall in rainfall deficit this year of varying proportions. Konkan region shows deficit of 31% with 2914 mm rainfall, Madhya Maharashtra shows deficit of 33% with 488.1 mm rainfall, Vidarbha shows deficit of 11% with 848.2 mm rainfall, but the highest deficit is Marathwada at 40% with 412.4 mm rainfall.

3According to IMD, between 1st June to 30th September, Maharashtra has received 732.5 mm rainfall of its 1007.3 mm average normal rainfall, which is 73% of average rainfall (27% deficit).

5 Districts that have received 50% or less of the average rainfall include

Kolhapur (803.4mm, -54%)

Solapur (231.8 mm, -51%)

Beed (287.4 mm, -50%)

Latur (372 mm, -51%) and

Parbhani (344.9 mm, -54%)

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From http://hydro.imd.gov.in/hydrometweb/ . Thanks to Akshay Deoras for indicating this

The region-wise, month-wise rainfall in Maharashtra this monsoon, as per IMD figures was as per following table.

Rainfall, mm Konkan-Goa Vidarbha Madhya Maharashtra Marathawada
June Normal 663 161 140 138
Actual 781 254 177 119
July Normal 1147 318.9 247.8 192.5
Actual 581.5 137.8 111.7 26.8
Aug Normal 759.6 305.7 289.1 188.2
Actual 388.7 288.9 56 112.2
Sept Normal 344.7 169 152.4 164.2
Actual 253.8 167.5 143.4 154
Monsoon Normal 2914.3 954.6 729.3 682.9
Actual 2005.0 848.2 488.1 412.4

Where is Madhya Maharashtra? Incidentally, IMD classifies the country in various categories.  Maharashtra includes Konkan, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha. Madhya Maharashtra includes Nashik and Pune Divisions of whopping 10 districts, from Nandurbar, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nashik, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Solapur, Sangli and Kolhapur. This region is not uniform in any sense, neither rainfall-wise, nor geographically nor is it “Madhya (Central) Maharashtra”. Any assessment based on a Madhya Maharashtra is meaningless in a sense as it clubs Kolhapur, at the southern tip of Maharashtra whose normal rainfall is more than 1500 mm with Dhule at the northern end of the state whose normal rainfall is about 500 mm and includes areas of Tapi, Narmada, Krishna and Godavari basins. It is time IMD adds some rationale to its meteorological divisions in India.

Maharashtra Agriculture Department: Agriculture Department of GoM runs a very useful website:  maharain.gov.in which displays detailed data from its Rainfall Recording and Analysis Department. It states: “The department of Agriculture, Maharashtra State initiated the project for recording daily rainfall in the state in year 1998. Initially rainfall data was recorded at tehsil level and subsequently same functionality was extended to circle level from 2013 as GoM has installed rain gauge at every circle. Circle officer sends daily rain data using mobile through SMS. In addition to SMS rain data can be entered directly on the web portal.”

Prima facie it appears that Agriculture Department may have a better spread in the over 40,000 villages in Maharashtra than IMD’s 878 rain gauging stations.7According to Agriculture Department, of the 353 administrative blocks in the state (taluks):

  • 65 bocks have received rainfall less than 50% rainfall (18.4% blocks). Most of these are concentrated in Solapur and Marathwada region.
  • 174 blocks have received rainfall between 50-75% rainfall.
  • Just 23 blocks have received 100% or above of normal, and these are concentrated in Vidarbha and Nandurbar, Northern Maharashtra.6

Cabinet Note of Government of Maharashtra, 49th Meeting, 30th Sept 2015: It reports that state has received 678.5 mm rain of the avergae 1131 mm, that is 59.9% or 60% of the average. But as we saw above, IMD says its 732.5mm of average 1007.3 mm, 73% of the average. There is no explanation for such widely different figures in the cabinet note.

Agricultural experts like Nishinkant Bhalerao states that the 60% magic figure will make any drought aid difficult and that it masks the monthly disparities which very badly affected this season’s Kharif. For example, Marathwada received barely 14% of its July average rainfall, a mere 28 mm, but cumulatively mainly due to late Spetmeber rains, this anamoly is hidden.

According to the note:

  • 13 districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Pune, Aurangabad, Buldana, Akola, Washim, Amravati, Wardha, Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia, Gadchiroli received between 76-100% average rainfall,
  • 17 districts of Thane, Palghar, Raigad Ratnagiri, Sindhudurga, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Jalna, Beed, Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Hingoli, Yavatmal, Chandrapur eceived between 51-75% average rainfall and
  • In 4 districts, rainfall has been less than 50%, these include Nashik, Solapur, Kolhapur and Parbhani.
  • Strangely, IMD states Nashik received 729 mm rainfall till 30th Sept and has just 20% rainfall deficit but for the same period, Agriculture Department shows Nashik has received just 484.8 mm rainfall, and shows a rainfall deficit of about 52%! The difference between the two values is whopping 244.2 mm, more than entire seasonal rainfall of Solapur!!
  • IMD note also includes Beed (just about here at -50%) and Latur (-51%) in less than 50% rain, these are not included in the cabinet note.
  • Agriculture Department statistics includes Osmanabad in less 50% rainfall bracket, but it is not included in Cabinet Note

Cabinet note talks about 355 blocks, while Agri Dept considers 353 blocks and Government of India[v] considers 351 blocks in Maharashtra!

Sr. No Cabinet Note, 30th September 2015 Agricultural Department Government of Maharashtra, 1st October 2015
Blocks with less than 25% rainfall 1 1
Blocks with 26-50% rainfall 49 64
Blocks with 51-75% rainfall 171 174
76-100% Rainfall 105 91
100% or more 29 23

While discrepancies in these sources is not the subject matter of this discussion, there is definitely a need to streamline and improve monsoon rainfall reporting. This is especially important at a time when policies, drought assistance, insurance payment to farmers and water allocation decisions are heavily dependent on rainfall figures. If we cannot get our rainfall figures right, it raises a lot of questions about our capacity to monitor and understand the most important weather event of the year, on which lives of over 50% of the population directly depend! There is a vast difference not only in observed rainfall, but also supposed normal rainfall figures, which skew up the percentages.

Below: Notable differences between IMD and State Govt Data

District IMD (mm) State Agriculture (mm) Difference in Actual Rainfall (mm)
  Normal Actual Rainfall % of Normal Normal Actual Rainfall % of Normal  
Dhule 523.5 533.5 101.9% 530.5 448.2 84.5% 85.0
Nashik 912.2 729.0 80% 1013 484.8 47.9% 244.2
Satara 723.8 455.7 63% 834.2 539.5 64.7% 83.3
Solapur 474.2 231.8 49% 488.8 193.9 39.7% 37.9
Kolhapur 1737.6 803.4 46% 1772.4 634.8 35.8% 168.6
Yavatmal 855 663.3 78% 911.4 479.1 52.6% 184.2
Nagpur 923.9 970 105% 988.5 938.2 94.9% 31.8
  • Solapur gets less than 1972 rainfall: According to Agriculture Dept, Solapur has received low rainfall of barely 193.9 mm from June-Sept. This is on top of 25% rainfall deficit in 2014 monsoon. In the epic drought of 1972 also, Solapur received more than this at 224.9 mm rainfall.[vi] This year, Solapur has received less than half of the rainfall Rajasthan received! This also seems to be the lowest monsoon rainfall Solapur received since 1901!
  • For two consecutive years, Parbhani has received less than 50% rainfall (326.9 mm this year). In fact it’s June –July August Rainfall this year is lowest in the century.
  • The district which has shown the highest deficit is Kolhapur. As per Agriculture Department data, it has received just 634.8 mm rainfall, 35.8% of its normal average monsoon rainfall. Strangely, IMD shows 803.4 mm rainfall this monsoon for Kolhapur, which is 46% of normal. The difference of 168.6 mm is too huge to be ignored and needs to be explained.

Reservoir Storages:

  • Reservoirs storages at Maharashtra state level are at 56% of live storage capacity right now. But this is again masking the regional disparities. Marathwada has just 15% storage and 9 months ahead before the next monsoon. Four of its reservoirs are at 0 Live Storage (Mazalgaon, Manjara, Nimn Terna, Nimn Dudhna). The biggest Dam Jayakwadi is at a mere 7% storage.
  • Nashik division upstream of Marathwada also has relatively low storage at 59%.
  • Pune is slightly better at 61%.
  • Nagpur, Amravati and Konkan divisions are above 70%.

Some Contingency Planning steps:

  • Even in this situation, westward diversion of water from drought-hit Bhima-Krishna basin to high rainfall Konkan region and down to sea by Koyna and Tata dams continues, with no attempt to stop this completely wasteful diversion in this dry season.
  • No information is available in public domain about district-wise planning of available water resources till the commencement of next monsoon
  • No strong decision has been taken by the government about restricting or regulating sugarcane crushing which will commence from 15th October and which will consume lakhs of liters of water in the most severely drought-affected parts of the state.
  • No strong decision on limiting new area under sugarcane in Solapur and Marathwada regions, which will be planted after this harvesting and crushing season.

While IMD states that Maharashtra has received more than 70% average rainfall and State Government pegs it at around 60%, the reality is that water situation in Maharashtra especially Western Maharashtra, Nashik region and Marathwada is dismal. Erratic rainfall with long dry spell in July and August has affected Kharip crops, groundwater levels and surface water storages. There is a need to immediately work on a participatory contingency planning of the available water resources for the coming year.

This planning cannot happen in a closed door manner by the cabinet or group of ministers, but should include and respond to water users and farmers and should be built on the principles of equity and sustainability. MWRRA also needs to get into its act. The people of the state are waiting for such an initiatives from the government and MWRRA.

– Parineeta Dandekar, with inputs from Himanshu Thakkar

END NOTES:

[i] http://www.imd.gov.in/section/nhac/dynamic/Monsoon_frame.htm

[ii] http://maharain.gov.in

[iii] Shared by Shri. Nishikant Bhalerao, Editor of Adhunik Kisan

[iv] http://www.imdpune.gov.in/research/ndc/rainfall/DRF_STN.htm

[v] http://indiawater.gov.in/IMISReports/NRDWPDistrictMain.aspx?IState=018&StName=MAHARASHTRA

[vi] http://www.indiawaterportal.org/met_data/

4 Comments on “State says 59.9% rainfall, IMD says 73%: Highlights and discrepancies of Maharashtra’s Monsoon 2015

  1. Thanks, finally IMD is sharing detailed data with public. IMD should also provide in its website, the locations of the rain gauging stations, various river basin areas in each district, division and state maps for understanding by the readers how the rainfall is contributing inflows in various rivers.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Maharashtra whose major part falls in Deccan plateau has a unique pattern of rainfall if you study rain fall pattern of > 500 years you will clearly observe a cycle of rain deficit years or decades followed average or above average rainfall with sometimes excessive rains but that is once or twice in decades where as Rajastan,Sind ,Gujarat & Punjab has more or less consistent rains & only recently this area has become flood prone that to when there is very heavy rainfall in Himalaya or upper basins of rivers flowing through this regions of Rajastan,Sind ,Gujarat & Punjab.Hence Water conservation is carried out more efficiently in Punjab,Sind,Gujrat & Rajastan.
        To address to the water scarity in Deccan plateau several factors have to be taken ,age old methods though cost effective may have become outdated.
        Following observation has been made over last 50 years
        Developement of modern medicines & surgery has increased (almost doubled) the life span of people living in this region.
        Developement in material sciences as well of technological advancement in infrastructure facilities has created a situation first time in 5000 years that people are living in most far off or remote in accessible region having scanty rains in rain deficient years.Has any body studied or compared conditions with last severe drought of 1972.with small settlements turning into villages ,villages turning into towns,towns turning into cities & cities into mega city (Aurangabad,Nashik Pune ,Jalgaon Sholapur ,Kolhapur ,Karad,Satara Jalna to name few),
        Has any one studied changes in lifestyle of people between this two draughts ,changes in crop cultivation pattern so several factors are important ,the population has increased almost 2 & 1/2 times whereas water availability from Mansoon rain fall has remained same .The same quantity of water available from rains between June to September has to cater changes in crop pattern,increased population ,industry as well change in lifestyle of people.can we have details of changes in per capita water consumption for period of 50 years it will give clear indication of increase of water usage by individuals.so simply blaming famine like situation on any particular reason will be self defeating.Most of the expert are quick at identifying the problems but are silent about the solutions.Due to my profession I had opportunity to visit interior of this Deccan plateau for last 50 years & have seen gradual as well sudden changes in this area ,
        Only solution to overcome the water scarity as faced by farmers ,villagers, citizens & industry is to increase availability of water.It is easier said than done. Increasing no. of bore wells or digging deeper bore well is not the solution.We will have to take help of Mother Nature,we will have to take help of advancement in technology & science.most of the rivers in Deccan plateau are east flowing except Narmada & Tapti , cities located in upper basins are well connected by railroad .Location wise they are few hundred Km for Arabian Sea ( if you take Distance as crow flies then 80 lakh gallons & this availability can increase to > 99 % if everybody from Manmad or passing through Manmad observe good higenic practice. So consider water availability of all towns located in upper basin of rivers in Deccan plateau if the scheme is implemented properly.
        Now coming to economics
        Cost involved will be as follows
        Major costing is desalination plant running on Solar energy
        Coal fired standby unit producing electricity
        Water metering system for filling rail wagons
        Logistics facility to couple this wagons to mail express trains without wasting time
        Logistics facility to decouple this wagons at respective stations without wasting time ( this may cause delay in train schedule & upset train time table)
        Water storage facility at respective stationsl
        Water filteration system at respective station
        Off take facility to distribute water into river basin.
        If we really take help of advances in science & technology then we can reduce impact of famine striking again in future as well provide descent standard of living to major population in Deccan plateau.
        If you feel this is feasible I will forward you detail schematics of above mentioned facilities.
        Even if transportation cost touches Rs.5/ltr & production cost is Rs. 10/ltr
        Still it will be economically feasible considering huge benefits it will be bringing to future generations by increase in cultivated area under horticulture or cash crops which are now solely dependent on rain water.

        Like

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