Drought Prone Areas
Out of the total geographical area of India, almost one-sixth area with 12% of the population is drought prone; the areas that receive an annual rainfall up to 60 cm are the most prone. The Irrigation Commission (1972) had identified 67 districts as drought prone. These comprise 326 talukas located in 8 states, covering an area of 49.73m ha. Subsequently, the National Commission on Agriculture (MOA 1976) identified a few more drought prone areas with slightly different criteria. Later, based on detailed studies, 74 districts of the country have been identified as drought prone.
Most of the drought-prone areas are found in arid, semi-arid, and sub-humid regions of the country, which experience less than average annual rainfall. Broadly, the drought-affected areas in India can be divided into two tracts. The first tract comprising the desert and the semi-arid regions covers an area of 0.6 million sq. km. It is rectangle shaped area whose one side extends from Ahmedabad to Kanpur and the other from Kanpur to Jullundur. In this region, rainfall is less than 750mm and at some places it is even less than 400 mm. The second tract comprises the regions east of the Western Ghats up to a distance of about 300 km from coast. Known as the rain shadow area of the Western Ghats, rainfall in this region is less than 750mm and is highly erratic. This region is thickly populated and periodic droughts cause considerable suffering and distress.
Besides these two tracts of scarcity, there are many pockets of drought in India. Some of these are :
Together, these scattered pockets occupy an area of 0.1 million sq. km. Drought is a recurrent phenomenon in Andhra Pradesh where no district is entirely free of droughts.
Rajasthan is one of the most drought prone areas of India. Eleven districts of the state are in arid regions including Jaisalmer as the driest district. No perennial river flows in Jaisalmer. Groundwater level in the district is 125–250 ft deep and at some places 400 ft deep. The rainfall in the district is extremely low at 164 mm. Out of 365 days of a year, on an average 355 days are dry.
The total area which receives inadequate rainfall is just over one million sq. km. The regions with rainfall less than 400mm occupy 12% of the total geographical area, and the area below 750mm rainfall is 35% or a little over a third of the country. Thus out of the total gross cultivated area of the country, 56 million ha is subject to inadequate and highly variable rainfall.
Large areas in the four states that utilize Narmada water falls in arid and semi-arid regions. As shown in Table 8, nearly 57% of Rajasthan and 32% of Gujarat falls in arid zone. Also, nearly 61% of Maharashtra and 46% of the area of Gujarat is semi-arid. This shows how important it is for these states to properly use available water.
Drought years in the past centuries.
*Indicates severe drought (>39.5% area affected), ** Phenomenal drought year (> 47.7% area).
Details of Droughts Since Independence.
Probability of occurrence of drought in different meteorological sub division.
Statewise area of arid and semi -arid zones
Note: figures inside brackets represent the % of the area of the state under that category.
Drought Prone Area of India