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Govt officially declares Kerala drought-hit

Kerala was officially declared drought-affected by the state government on Monday,  as  October closed with no turnaround to offer from an underwhelming Southwest monsoon. 

Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said the Northeast monsoon (typically categorised as the period from October 1 to December 31) has, so far, left the state with a deficit rainfall of 69%. The minister was responding to an adjournment motion in the State Legislative Assembly, moved by the Opposition in connection with the issue.

During the Southwest monsoon (between June 1 and September 30), Kerala received rainfall 34% less than the long-term average for the period. The government estimates that even moderate-to-good rainfall till the end of December would not be sufficient to offset the damage caused by this deficit. 

The government commenced discussions on contingency measures about two weeks ago. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan called for concerted efforts from local self-governments (LSG) and the public to face the impending drought. 

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala on Monday urged the government to call in a Central team to assess the situation and help in drought relief measures.

Between October 1 and 26, the state received 77.9 mm rainfall, while the long-term average for the period is 248.2 mm. The Indian Meteorological Department put the figure as a “large deficient” (-60% or less).  

While Pathanamthitta district recorded a deficiency of 46%, all the 13 other districts also reported a large deficiency in rainfall. 

Power situation

With the monsoons failing, the government is also looking at solutions to counter possibilities of a power crisis. Figures from the state load despatch centre under the Kerala State Electricity Board reveal that the combined storage in the state’s 16 major reservoirs, on Monday, stood at only 52%. 

State to get more rain in coming days 

With the Northeast monsoon becoming active over Kerala, most places in the state received rain on Monday, PTI reports. Rain and thunder showers are likely to occur in most places in the state and in at least one or two places in Lakshadweep in the next five days, the IMD said.

Heavy rainfall will occur in isolated places till the morning of November 2, the weather bulletin said.

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