Droughts, Drylands and Water Management in India


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Drought is a normal, recurrent feature of climate and occurs in all climatic regimes and is usually characterized in terms of its spatial extension, intensity and duration. Conditions of drought appear when the rainfall is deficient in relation to the statistical multi-year average for a region, over an extended period of a season or year, or even more. During the colonial period, many droughts turned into severe famines causing massive human losses. The first Bengal Famine of 1770 is estimated to have wiped out nearly one-third of the population. The famines continued until Independence in 1947, with the Bengal Famine of 1943-44 being among the most devastating, affecting 3-4 million. The situation improved remarkably in post-independence India. The Green Revolution in the 1960s made the country self-sufficient in food production. Though India's population has tripled since it achieved Independence, there has been no famine in the past 50 years, which is certainly an impressive achievement. India is endowed with a rich and vast diversity of natural resources, water being one of them. Development and management of water plays a vital role in agriculture production. Integrated water management is vital for poverty reduction, environmental protection and sustainable economic development. Water security is emerging as an increasingly important and vital issue for India. Management of water resources poses increasingly difficult challenges. In this context, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)-with an outlay of ` 50,000 crore for a period of 5 years (2015-16 to 2019-20)-aims to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level. PMKSY is being implemented in an area development approach, adopting decentralized state-level planning and projectised execution. [Subject: India Studies, Agricultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Development Studies, Economic Studies]