South Asia: Severe to exceptional water deficits forecast for central & southern India

26 April 2017

The Big Picture
The 12-month forecast (below) indicates water deficits of varying severity dominating nearly all of India with exceptional deficits in Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Deficits are also forecast for western Baluchistan, Pakistan and western Afghanistan.

Surpluses are forecast for eastern Afghanistan, and Jammu and Kashmir, India.

Impacts
Heavy rain in northeastern Bangladesh damaged 125,885 hectares of crops, primarily rice, and affected 102,875 people. In the city of Sylhet, 185 mm (7.3 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours beginning March 29, and over 120 mm (4.7 inches) fell a day later. Flooding forced 17 schools in the area to close and destroyed a rail bridge, stranding thousands of passengers at local stations.

Flooding and landslides in Assam, India, northeast of Bangladesh waterlogged National Highway 54 in Kapurcherra, closed schools, and resulted in two deaths, with two persons missing.

Heavy precipitation in Jammu and Kashmir state in northern India produced unseasonably heavy snowfall, triggering an avalanche that trapped five soldiers at an army post, with three of them feared dead. Incessant rain in Srinagar, the largest city in Jammu and Kashmir, prompted officials to declare flood after the Jhelum River reached 18 feet. Schools and universities in the region were closed, residential areas were evacuated, and the area's major travel artery, Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, was unpassable due to landslides.

Displaying what they claimed were skulls of fellow farmers who committed suicide, farmers from Tami Nadu in southern India traveled to New Dehli to bring awareness to the desperation caused by drought and debt. The protesters demanded that loans from nationalized banks be forgiven. The Tamil Nadu state government has waived crop loans from cooperative banks for drought-hit farmers but these loans amount to only 11 percent, with the remaining debt financed by nationalized banks.

The Indus River System Authority, charged with apportioning Pakistan's water, says the country is facing a water shortage of up to 35 percent and has recommended delaying Kharif sowing - April to November planting of rice, sugarcane, cotton, and maize. Water shortages will affect Sindh and Punjab Provinces, primarily.

Residents of two affluent suburbs of Karachi in Sindh Province - DHA City and Clifton - protested outside a local civic office citing lack of water availability through installed pipe systems while taxes were imposed for trucked water delivery.

Forecast Breakdown
The 3-month composites (below) show the evolving conditions.

The April through June forecast shows the emergence of severe to exceptional deficits across central and southern India, which may be especially intense in eastern Tamil Nadu, southern Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. Both surpluses and deficits are expected in the Chambal Basin in Rajasthan. Exceptional surpluses are forecast in Jammu and Kashmir.

Surpluses are forecast for much of eastern Afghanistan. Both deficits and surpluses are expected along the southern Indus River in Pakistan, with primarily surpluses along its northern tributaries. Deficits will continue to emerge in a pattern radiating from Karachi, where a small pocket of exceptional deficit is forecast.

From July through September deficits in India will decrease in intensity though severe to extreme deficits will persist in Madhya Pradesh. The overall extent of deficits in India will increase during this period as the Chambal, Yamuna, and Son River watersheds transition to deficits; moderate to severe deficits emerge farther north, reaching Himachal Pradesh; and deficits emerge in northeastern India. Moderate to severe deficits are also forecast to emerge throughout Bangladesh. Surpluses are expected to recede in Jammu and Kashmir, northern Pakistan, and eastern Afghanistan. The intensity of deficits in southwestern Afghanistan will increase, reaching exceptional severity in some pockets. Conditions near Karachi, Pakistan will return to near-normal, but moderate to exceptional deficits will emerge in far western Balochistan.

The final months – October through December – indicate primarily moderate deficits in the region.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

Comment

Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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