Last Monday, our Business Section carried a lead story headlined ‘Drought 2012?’ Therein we had clearly stated that India was facing a drought and the only classification that had to come from the government’s side was whether it would be a ‘Drought or a Severe Drought’. That was the question we had raised.
However, the government, hiding behind a veil of statistics, kept the hope going, saying that the monsoons “would improve, we are taking steps etc etc”. In a sense the government was resorting to talking instead of acting. But the façade had to be cleared and that has happened now with New Delhi officially confirming the first drought in three years and admitting that the monsoon rains are likely to be less than 90 percent of the long-term average”. The difference between last fortnight and yesterday was just a few decimal points. We wonder why the acceptance of the truth was held back…
For us, the commoners, the impact of the drought can be serious. Be assured, your pockets are going to be pinched. Food inflation, which is already high, will face further pressure due to the poor rainfall. The prices of pulses and coarse cereals, which are rain-fed crops and for which no buffer stocks exist, could flare up as a result. In addition, prices of oil seeds are expected to rise further because of lack of adequate sowing due to lower acreage. Kharif production will be hit as sowing of quite a few crops has been negatively impacted by deficient rainfall.
We have to also take into account to take into account the probability of a sharp drop in the hydroelectric power supply, meaning we could face severe power shortages.
And if you think all this is happening elsewhere, please note that Maharashtra is amongst the worst-affected states, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
And oh yes, the IMD has finally said the monsoon is going to be “deficient”.
As if we didn’t know that!