Despite witnessing a normal monsoon, Karnataka witnessed a 15% increase in queries pertaining to monsoon. With untimely rains and prolonged cloudy conditions, farmers were apprehensive about the erratic pattern and unpredictable rainfall and repeatedly called up “Varuna Mitra” a rain-related helpline set up at the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC).
As per the records made available to DH by the KSNDMC, the helpline received about 8.14 lakh calls during this monsoon season. Interestingly, July witnessed the highest number of calls as several districts received excess rainfall during the month. During the 2020 monsoon, the helpline had received only 6.92 lakh calls, according to officials.
“Almost 95% of the calls to the helpline are made by farmers to find out when rainfall begins and stops in their region,” the operators said. However, this year, most farmers were worried about when the cloudy conditions would be cleared as cloudy conditions prevailed for a long time in the state due to various systems.
The Varuna Mitra helpline receives 7,000 to 10,000 calls every day and 90% of the calls are completed within 120 seconds, said the officials of KSNDMC. The helpline operates on a 24/7 basis with 32 parallel phone lines. The number of calls received by the helplines has seen a steady increase in the last five years - except for a dip in 2019 - with an average of 6,27,701 calls. The highest calls were received from the Ballari, Tumakuru, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Vijayapura districts.
“Farmers use our weather information to decide on sowing, manuring and irrigation, harvest and drying. It is simple, but very crucial information for them as it will decide their year-long hard work,” Manoj Rajan, Director, KSNDMC said.