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Rajasthan - Climate

The climate of the Rajasthan is characterised by extremely high range of temperatures and aridity although sharing the characteristic monsoonal variations through the year. It is the hottest region of India. The rainfall is scanty here and highly erratic. The underground water level is deep going down to 60 or 90 meters and in some cases 300 meters.

The annual rainfall varies significantly. There is very rapid and marked decrease in rainfall in the west of the Aravalli range. The average annual rainfall in this part ranges from less than 100 mm to 300 mm in Sri Ganganagar, Bikaner and Barmer districts, 300-400 mm in Nagaur, Jodhpur, Churu and Jalor districts and more than 400 mm in Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Pali districts. On the eastern side of the Aravalli, the rainfall ranges from 550 mm in Ajmer to 1020 mm in Jhalawar. In plains Banswara, and Jhalawar districts receive the maximum rainfall. Marked variations in diurnal and seasonal range of temperatures occur at all places in the state, exhibiting the most characteristic phenomenon of the warm-dry continental climate.

The State of Rajasthan is one of the driest states of the country and the total surface water resources in the state are only about 1% of the total surface water resources of the country. The surface water resources in the state are mainly confined to south and south-eastern parts of the State.

Availability of water has strongly conditioned the nature of agriculture and farming practices in various parts of the state. While Rajasthan has five percent of the country's population and ten percent of the total land, its share of the country's water resources is merely one percent. Rainfall in the state varies from a high of 900 mm in the south east to a low of 190 mm in the western districts. The rainfall is further characterised by frequent dry spells and uneven distribution, which seriously affect the crop and livestock production.

In the relatively high rainfall areas, such as eastern districts of Jhalawar, Banswara, Kota, Baran, and parts of Chittorgarh and also an area covered by Gang, Bhakra and IGNP canal system, Chittorgarhthe expansion of ground and surface water irrigation has helped farmers in making the transition to high input based commercially oriented farming. In contrast, change has been slow in the low rainfall, arid and semi-arid non-irrigated areas, where productivity has remained low on account of uncertain provision of water, poor levels of technology adoption and a steadily weakening natural resource base.

Horticulture faces an impasse due to repeated market failures owing to lack of information and absence of co-operative action. Given the high levels of ecological stress upon land, water and forests in the State, compounded by the problem of encroachment by the more powerful interest groups, community response has often taken the shape of protest movements for control over land, water and forest. In order to capture the State’s vulnerability to drought and pestilence in a comprehensive manner, it is essential to examine the incidence of poverty. High levels of urban poverty, with trends consistently higher than rural poverty levels, are a salient feature of Rajasthan’s poverty profile.

Due to low and erratic rainfall, a large part of Rajasthan is often in a state of drought and water scarcity. This is a source of enormous hardship to the people, as it diminishes return from agriculture in terms of yield, surplus and wages. Greater part of the working population is forced to migrate in search of employment. This further hollows out the local economy.

In the period between 1981 and 1995, there were nine years of drought, which was particularly severe in 1985-87 and 1992. Large-scale loss of livestock and deprivation occurred in rural areas during this period, especially in the southern and western regions. Following monsoon failure in 1999, a massive drought has now gripped the state, with 26 districts declared as drought-affected, a large-scale outmigration and loss of cattle wealth.

Rajasthan has been historically prone to acute water scarcity and drought. The traditional livelihood systems of crop and livestock production have helped cope with drought and endemic water stress. However, hardship due to drought has increased in recent years because of socio-economic and environmental factors.

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Page last modified: 26-02-2018 18:54:30 ZULU