Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version

October 2001


Published in Drought Network News Vol. 13, Nos. 2–3, Summer–Fall 2001. Published by the International Drought Information Center and the National Drought Mitigation Center, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska – Lincoln.


Inadequate water resources pose a big threat to the economy, human activities, and livelihood in the Gujarat/Saurashtra regions of India. Scanty rainfall with wide aberrations in its distribution has made the situation worse, leading to chronic drought in the state in 2001. With the exception of the Narmada and Tapi rivers, there are hardly any water resources to sustain agricultural production in the region. The gradual disappearance of forest cover in the state has further aggravated the drought situation. This has led to large-scale erosion of the topsoil, particularly near the riverside. There is apprehension that the region will soon become an “environmental refugee” zone.

In addition, groundwater resources are overexploited in the state, with the water table going down nearly 4 m per year, particularly in the premonsoon season. The state was once a lush green carpet of groundnut and cotton crops, but mismanagement of water resources at all levels has led to the current drought problem in the Gujarat, Saurashtra, and Kutch regions. Figure 1 depicts the current drought-affected regions of the state.

India has a record of 12 successive good monsoons, with the 13th in the offing this year. But the drought in the Gujarat and Saurashtra regions may be due to the poor monsoon and winter rainfall last year. The crisis was aggravated by overexploitation and reckless use of groundwater. Out of 100 million people affected by drought in India, 25 million are from this region, spread over 17 districts of the state, and 7 million cattle are also affected. There is a 30% deficit of food grains in this region.

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