RDPR dept plans cloud seeding from first week of July

Amid the forecast of a deficient monsoon, Mangaluru received heavy rains last week. (DH File Photo)

As forecast of a deficient monsoon threatens another drought year for Karnataka, the state government is banking on cloud seeding to ease the agrarian crisis in the state.

The Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Department has tentatively planned to start the cloud-seeding exercise from the first week of July, pending permission from some Central government departments.

H S Prakash Kumar, Chief Engineer, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department told DH that principal secretary to RDPR Department has written to the Central government agencies requesting them to speed up the clearance procedure.

Kyathi Climate Modification Consultants and US-based Weather Modification Incorporated, who are undertaking the project at a cost of Rs 45 crore, have already written to the Central government agencies.

“The project requires clearance from Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and other agencies. We have urged these agencies to speed up the clearance sought by the firms,” he said.

While it took around a month for obtaining approval to import various equipment required for the project, the chief engineer said they were hopeful that clearance would be quicker this time around. In case of a delay, cloud-seeding will be taken up around second week of July, he said.

Once equipment required for the project is imported to the country, Radars will be installed at three locations around the state - Bengaluru, Gadag and Surpur in Yadgir district - to assess various parameters required for successful cloud-seeding.

G S Srinivasa Reddy, Director of Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Cell, said cloud-seeding will be crucial as monsoon was very weak during the current season. “Due to lack of rains, farmers could not sow during the first month of the monsoon season. Taking up cloud-seeding early will help in improving soil-moisture content and thereby agriculture,” he said.

Due to the delay in monsoon onset, farmers will have to cultivate contingency crops than the ones they normally grow, he added.

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