The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has announced the arrival of monsoon in Jammu as per schedule this year. IMD has updated the forecast monsoon to 103 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA), from 99 per cent of LPA predicted in April this year.
Monsoon brings about 80% of the rainfall in India. As per the experts, larger climate factors are, as of now, unlikely to have a significant influence over the prevailing monsoon. Put in other words, the monsoon would be good which will aid agriculture and is in turn essential for the economy. Sometimes the monsoon is termed as India’s real finance minister, more so because rains are crucial for agricultural productivity, food security, farm employment, and rural income. The IMD has said that there is just a 23 per cent climatological probability of rainfall this year to be ‘deficient’ or ‘below normal’ across the country.
If the IMD’s forecasts come true, it will be the fourth straight year when the southwest monsoon will be ‘normal’ or ‘above normal’ as a whole.
While a good monsoon is better for agriculture and allied fields, it is sometimes also associated with the risks such as floods. When bad, it results in drought. There is thus the flip side of a forecast and a plentiful monsoon may lead to flash floods, landslides and disease outbreaks.
In such a scenario, the administration needs to be better prepared to meet any eventuality caused by excessive rains. It can wipe out the potential gains for agriculture and allied sectors.
In Kashmir context, plentiful rains may bring flooding into picture, more when there are chances of glacier melt amid the rise in mercury. Already water level is high in water bodies including Jhelum especially after plenty of rains earlier in June this year.
The government needs to recall, time and again, the scientific consensus that future rain spells may be short, often unpredictable and very heavy, influenced by a changing climate. There is a need to invest in reliable infrastructure to mitigate the impact of flooding and avert disasters like one in 2014 when almost half of Srinagar and many villages in south Kashmir were devastated.
In some occasions in the past, the response of the governments to the imperative has been tardy at times and even indifferent. The official machinery is sometimes hesitant to act against the encroachment of water bodies’ catchments, river courses and floodplains. The government must draw up various plans clearly and in an era of climate change, the same is a prerequisite, not a choice.