Despite delayed monsoon this year, India received surplus rainfall in late June and July. But with El Niño gaining strength gradually, deficit rainfall has been predicted. Data indicates that the monsoon season might end with a rainfall deficit of at least 8% — the lowest rains in eight years.
Data from the Central Water Commission (CWC) shows that scanty rainfall over the past week has aggravated the 79% of the same period’s storage last year and 94% of the ten-year average. Water level in 146 reservoirs is currently at 113.584 billion cubic metres (bcm), which is 64% of their overall capacity. Although there’s been an increase since last week, it’s less compared to the same period last year, where storage was at 144.569 bcm. The ten-year average for this period is 120.916 bcm.
The Central for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) has sounded a warning about severe drought in Kerala projecting a rainfall shortage of 90 per cent or greater across all districts in the forthcoming months. The state already witnessed an average rainfall deficit of 45 per cent between June 1 and August 17. Notably, several states, including West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bihar, have seen rainfall deficits ranging from 20% to 63%, accompanied by low reservoir levels. This has hurt crop yields with nearly 15% drop in pulses sowing in Maharashtra. Farmers in Bihar have been advised by the state agriculture department to consider less water-intensive alternatives like maize. However, among such grim news, Indian farmers have planted 4.3% more land with rice than last year – 36.1 million hectares (89.2 million acres) with rice, up 4.3% on the same period last year.
Invasive species behind 60% of global plant and animal extinctions: Study
According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) invasive species are currently costing the world $423 billion annually and have driven 60% of global plant and animal extinctions. “Invasive alien species have been a major factor in 60% and the only driver in 16% of global animal and plant extinctions that we have recorded, and at least 218 invasive alien species have been responsible for more than 1,200 local extinctions,” said Anibal Pauchard, Chile, co-chair of the assessment.
The study states that the Caribbean false mussel has wiped out almost all native clams and oysters of Kerala which are important for local fisheries, reported the HT adding that the alien species may have travelled to India via ships and later spread by smaller fishing vessels that travel frequently between coastal oceanic waters and the fishing harbours of Kerala. The report backed by 143 IPBES member countries says that the global economic cost of invasive alien species exceeded $423 billion annually in 2019, with costs having at least quadrupled every decade since 1970. In 2019, the IPBES found that invasive alien species are one of the five most important direct drivers of biodiversity loss – alongside changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of species, the climate crisis, and pollution, HT reported.
Himachal Pradesh flooding: 21 of 23 hydel projects face legal action for violating norms, causing flooding downstream
Torrential rains have triggered cloudbursts, flash floods, and landslides in Himachal Pradesh causing colossal damages. Although climate change is expected to have played a role in causing the high precipitation leading to these flash floods, human-induced disasters have also played a hand in such huge losses. The Himachal Pradesh government has found that 21 out of the 23 dams in the state have violated safety norms, and legal action against their management would be taken. The HP State Electricity Board-operated Larji hydropower project in Mandi and Jateon in Sirmaur, and the HP Power Corporation-run Sawra Kuddu project in Shimla and Sainj in Kullu are among the violators. According to the state emergency operation centre, 221 people have died in rain-related incidents since the onset of monsoon in the hill state on June 24 and about 11,900 houses have been partially or completely damaged.
Wildfire rages across Canada’s British Columbia, heatwaves continue to burn Europe
British Columbia has declared a state of emergency with the Canadian province facing the worst wildfire season ever, forcing thousands of evacuation from cities east of Vancouver. The McDougall Creek wildfire has raged across 10,500 hectares above the city of West Kelowna, a city of 36,000 people, 300km east of Vancouver. Evacuations were also being carried out in nearby Kelowna, a city with a population of about 150,000 and further north in Yellowknife with 19,000 people safe from the wildfires. Canada is enduring its worst wildfire season, with more than 1,000 active fires burning across the country. Meanwhile, the worst wildfire in at least four decades has hit the Canary island of Tenerife, burning through 11,600 hectares (29,000 acres) of pine forest and scrubland. More than 12,000 people have been evacuated. The police have confirmed that the wildfire raging on the Spanish tourist island of Tenerife was started deliberately. In addition, heatwave and wildfires continue to burn Europe with the Greek government warning of an extreme risk of fire across the country, while more than half of mainland France has been placed under an amber extreme heat alert.