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Retreating monsoon worst in 140 years; TN declares drought as 144 farmers die

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farm drought

New Delhi, January 11: The Tamil Nadu government declared a drought on January 10, after 144 farmers ended their lives between October and December. As many as 106 farmers were reported to have committed suicide in one month, according to a notice issued by the National Human Rights Commission to the state government on January 5.

The retreating northeast monsoon — usually unnoticed in India owing to the singular importance of the larger southwest monsoon — in 2016 was the worst-ever over the last 140 years, according to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) records, since 1876.

“It is an unprecedented situation,” S. Panneerselvam, Professor and Head, Agro Climate Research Centre, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore, said. “It has severely affected 21 of 32 districts of Tamil Nadu.”

“Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal on January the 16th,” said Panneerselvam. “It is when the harvest begins, but the yield this time is going to be the worst the state will see.”

On January 5, reservoirs in Tamil Nadu were at less than 20 per cent of their capacity, cited as the worst-ever for the state.

Record-keeping began in 1871, but a worse northeast monsoon, which sweeps across Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh, south interior Karnataka and Kerala, between October and December, was recorded in 1876, making 2016 the year of the second-worst monsoon in 145 years.

Overall, the northeast monsoon was 45 per cent short of the average for this period, the state worst hit being Tamil Nadu, where rainfall for the season was 62 per cent short of normal. Although the southwest monsoon — which waters the subcontinent between June and September — was classified as normal across India (three per cent below average), it was 19 per cent deficient in Tamil Nadu.

Hit by shortages from both monsoons, Tamil Nadu, where the winter crop depends more on the northeast monsoon than in any other Indian state, reported a 33 per cent drop in the winter sowing of rice, according to latest crop sowing situation report, updated weekly by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The northeast monsoon becomes active after the southwest monsoon retreats from the subcontinent. While there is no specific date for the retreat of southwest and the onset of northeast monsoon, October is regarded as the starting period of the lesser monsoon.

Apart from the two monsoons, Tamil Nadu also receives pre-monsoon rains, all important for agriculture.

Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur and Thanjavur were the worst hit districts in Tamil Nadu.

There are 135,000 paddy farmers among the 175,000 lakh farmers in our district, Nagapattinam, which falls in the Cauvery delta. Half the farmers have sown the paddy crop, but less than 20 per cent of the crop has crossed the flowering stage,” said J. Sekar, Joint Director of the Agriculture Department in the eastern coastal district of Nagapattinam. “Even this mature crop will yield nothing.

“Under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (prime minister’s crop insurance scheme), about 130,000 (95 per cent) paddy farmers in the district are insured,” said Sekhar. His claim could not be independently verified. “A premium of about Rs 11 crore has been collected. This will provide a safety net to our farmers.”

The failure of the northeast monsoon was evident across the South except Telangana, where farming is mostly rain-fed and dependent on the southwest monsoon.

With the northeast monsoon failing and the southwest sketchy, reservoirs in the southern states are in crisis — or nearing one.

Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala now report the highest deficits nationwide. Tamil Nadu reservoirs are 82 per cent short of normal levels — the highest deficit in India currently — while those in Andhra Pradesh are 53 per cent short, Karnataka 39 per cent and Kerala 37 per cent.

Karnataka declared a drought in 22 districts and some additional talukas in October 2016; the state has received Rs 1,782 crore from the central government. All of Kerala has been declared drought-hit.

As 2016 ended, South India’s combined reservoir levels were 34 per cent of capacity, which is 22 percentage points less than 56 per cent, the average water availability over the last 10 years.

Tamil Nadu had targeted 14.5 lakh hectares under rice in 2016-17, according to the weekly sowing situation report dated January 6, of the Agriculture Ministry, more than any other state. But no more than 7.18 lakh hectares had been sown until January 5, which is 3.5 lakh hectares — or 33 per cent — less than the five-year sowing average of 10.68 lakh hectares.

Compared to the first-week-of-January average of 17.28 lakh hectares of sowing, rice has been planted on 12.74 lakh hectares across India, leaving a deficit of 4.54 lakh hectares, or 26 per cent.

“Less area coverage has been reported from the states of Tamil Nadu (3.50 lakh hectare), Andhra Pradesh (0.31 lakh hectare), Karnataka (0.15 lakh hectare), Telangana (0.13 lakh hectare), Assam (0.12 lakh hectare), Odisha (0.09 lakh hectare) and Kerala (0.09 lakh hectare),” said the government’s sowing report.

IANS

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Partly cloudy Monday morning in Delhi

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New Delhi, June 25: It was a partly cloudy morning in the national capital on Monday with the minimum temperature recorded at 31.6 degree Celsius, three notches above the season’s average, news agency IANS quoted the weather office as saying.

The air-quality across the National Capital Region (NCR) was moderate on Monday, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).

The sky will remain partly cloudy throughout the day, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 41 degrees Celsius.

The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 47 per cent.

On Sunday, the maximum temperature was settled at 42.2 degrees, five notches above the season’s average, while the minimum temperature was recorded at 32 degrees Celsius, four notches above the season’s average.

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Heat wave, high humidity continues in UP

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hot day summer HEATWAVE
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Lucknow, June 25: Heat wave conditions and high humidity continued across Uttar Pradesh on Monday, according to the weather office.

The mercury in many parts of Bundelkhand touched up to 46 degrees Celsius in the past 48-hours and the humidity levels very high in many regions, including central Uttar Pradesh or the Avadh region.

In the last 24-hours, Allahabad was the hottest in the state recording a maximum of 44.7 degrees Celsius followed by Sultanpur with 42.6 degrees and Lucknow 42.3 degrees.

The minimum temperature in the state capital was 29.8 degrees celsius, which was three degrees above the normal temperature recorded in this season.

Owing to the extreme heat wave conditions and delayed monsoons, the district administration in Lucknow has already extended the summer vacations by two days.

According to Lucknow District Magistrate (DM) Kaushal Raj Sharma, the decision was taken in the interest of the school children.

The schools will open on July 2 for classes two to nine. But vacations will be extended if the mercury does not come down and rains do not take place.

Adding to the woes are the incessant power cuts in many places in the state.

In the state capital, power outages peaked in the past 10 days.

Power minister Shrikant Sharma, despite assurances that power scenario will improve considerably, has failed miserably to do anything concrete, the opposition has said.

Subhash Kahsyap, a retired Army officer residing in Indiranagar, Lucknow, says he has not seen such a “poor power scenario” in the past 10 years.

IANS

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Army Major killed officer’s wife when she refused o marry him: Cops

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New Delhi, June 25: As the investigation into the Army officer’s wife murder progresses, the Delhi Police said Major Nikhil Handa, who was detained on Sunday in connection with the murder, was apparently obsessed with the woman and wanted to marry her.

“Handa murdered the wife of fellow Army Major when he found out that she was not ready to marry him,” ANI quoted police as saying

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“The accused has been brought to Delhi. He knew the victim since 2015,” Deputy Commissioner of police, West, Vijay Kumar Singh told ANI.

Handa has picked up Shailza at around 11 am in his Honda City from the hospital , during a heated agrument, he allegedly slashed her neck with a knife, threw her out of the car and ran over her,”Vijay Kumar Singh told ANI.

According to media reports Major Nikhil Rai Handa returned to the crime scene where he dumped her body near Delhi Cantt Metro station but turned back on seeing the police personnel. He then allegedly fled to Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, from where he was arrested on Sunday morning.

On Saturday, 35-year-old Shailza Dwivedi was found with her throat slit at Brar Square. Police said that since the area is isolated, nobody spotted her body for a while. Around 1.30 pm, a water tanker driver passing by saw her lying in a pool of blood and made a PCR call.

Handa met the deceased in 2015 in Nagaland when her husband was posted there. They had kept in touch, even when she came to Delhi after her husband was transferred.

“They talked continuously on phone, though he was the one who called her more often. Major Dwivedi once caught them during a video call. He confronted his wife and Nikhil and warned him to not come close to his wife and his house,” Singh said.

The deceased’s body was found with her throat slit in Delhi’s Brar Square area on Saturday.

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