Uttar Pradesh is staring at a drought-like situation with a deficient pre-monsoon rainfall this year.
More than half of the state, including the semi-arid Bundelkhand region, faces a drought-like situation due to a monsoon deficit, which is hitting paddy plantation and posing a threat to the timely sowing of other kharif crops too.
The state government, however, continues to deny the problem though officials say that they are keeping a close watch on the situation and are also working on an action plan if the situation worsens.
While the eastern Uttar Pradesh region has reported a rain deficiency of 68 per cent till June 7, western Uttar Pradesh recorded a rain deficiency of 37 per cent till the same period.
"Monsoon deficit is definitely causing concern to us, but it will be too early to say there is drought in the state because the monsoon is not over and rains can still come anytime," said Amit Mohan, Principal Secretary (Agriculture).
He said an advisory might be issued to the farmers in case sufficient rainfall remained elusive for a week or two.
The situation is worst in the Bundelkhand region which has received only 37.1 per cent of the normal rainfall during the said period.
Majority of water bodies and wells in the region have dried up. Bundelkhand have five rivers -- Betwa, Yamuna, Kunwari, Satlej and Pahuj -- but most of them have seen depletion in water levels over the years.
People in this region are being forced to migrate due to paucity of water, while cattle deaths have also been reported.
The pre-monsoon rainfall has been below 40 per cent of the normal in 31 of the 75 districts in the state. The Met department defines this as "scanty" rainfall.
Only five districts -- Mathura, Hathras, Farukkhabad, Balrampur and Etah -- have received normal rainfall. The districts of Lakhimpur Kheri, Shahjahanpur, Shravasti and Bahraich have received excess rain that is over 120 per cent of the normal precipitation.
Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Rae Bareli, Etawah, Kanpur Dehat, Azamgarh, Rampur and Kasganj are among the 31 other districts with scanty rainfall.
The districts of Chitrakoot, Chandauli and Mau are the "most parched districts in the state."
Another 27 districts with 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the normal rainfall have been put under the category of "highly deficit" districts. These districts include Lucknow, Allahabad, Meerut, Bareilly and Aligarh.
The drought–like situation caused by deficit rainfall has delayed the plantation of paddy, one of the state's main crops. The time for sowing paddy will be over after July 31.
"Paddy is grown on 59 lakh hectares of land. But the crop has been sown only on 30 per cent land so far. The remaining plantation has to be done by the month-end, beyond which plantation of all varieties, except the Basmati, would be too late," said Soraaj Singh, Agricultural Director.