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Tamil Nadu experiences recurrent droughts. Tamil literature also indicates that famine-like conditions prevailed during the Pandiyan Kingdom for nearly 12 years. The state normally benefits from northeast monsoon rainfall from October to December, unlike other regions of India, which are dominated by southwest monsoon rainfall.
In general, four major parameters determine the nature and extent of drought conditions in Tamil Nadu: (1) rainfall, (2) ground water, (3) reservoir levels, and (4) crop conditions. It is estimated that nearly 50% of the districts in the state are drought-prone. The state receives nearly 80% of its annual rainfall during the northeast monsoon, whereas it experienced below-normal rainfall in the southwest monsoon for 30% of the years in the last 25 years. During the southwest monsoon period, water demand always exceeds rainfall, but the water deficit is quite low in the northeast monsoon period. Hence, due to severe water deficit, drought recurs during the southwest monsoon and also in summer months in Tamil Nadu.