Calls from farmers on unseasonal rains spike up

The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) has been receiving more than 2,000 phone calls a day from farmers across the State to check on the unseasonal pre-monsoon rains, which have affected crops in rural areas and damaged properties in urban regions.

According to an official, the centre used to receive just around 800 calls during rains. But this year, the calls have spiked up due to the unprecedented rainfall, coupled with hailstorm, which has affected harvest.

The centre’s records show that there were 28,229 calls in March; 34,553 in April; and 3,349 in just four days in May. Udupi, Gadag, Kalaburagi, Vijayapura, Ballari and Bengaluru Urban districts have experience heavy, scattered rains in the past two months.

The official said although the Varuna Mitra call centre had not provided any suggestions to farmers about farming, the disaster monitoring centre, however, did advise farmers when to go ahead with ploughing, when to use fertilisers in case heavy rains were forecast, and when to delay harvesting.

He said many parts of the State had experienced hailstorm, which had affected crops, and many farmers were complaining about losses.

Ritesh Kumar Singh, secretary, Revenue department (disaster management), said the government had already sent a memorandum to the Centre on the loss of crops due to unseasonal rains. The loss – estimated from the second week of April – has been put at Rs 500 crore. The State government has sought Rs 218 crore from the Centre.

Western Disturbance
Explaining the reason for such unseasonal pre-monsoon showers, a scientist from the centre said there had been Western Disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean, which was causing rainfall.

“Normally, pre-monsoon showers begin somewhere in May, but we have already received heavy rains two months in advance. Even when you look at the Bengaluru City scenario, the weather is completely bright and sunny during the morning hours, and clouds start forming by 2 pm, which is resulting in heavy rains in the City,” he said.

Dr Srinivas Reddy, director, KSNDMC, said the centre had 5,625 telemetric rain gauges set up in all the gram panchayats in the State, and with the recent heavy rains, nine districts had experienced hailstorm which had damaged the crops.

He said the Bengaluru scenario was different as the City cannot hold even 20mm of heavy rain due to lack of proper infrastructure to carry rainwater.

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