Some months ago, I Twittered “july, 09 is hottest in 40 years. rainfall is 10% of the average; just 20mm. pointReturn is reeling under the drought” And i cited this story. That was about the SW monsoon that contributes about 30% of the average 900mm that we get annually. [70% of the rainfall comes from the NE monsoon between late October and mid-December.]
Since then it rained robustly on one day in July and teasingly for three days in a row in September. And that has been that. I await another story in another two months, that this year’s NEm was the weakest too, in decades. After all, is it going to rain down 700mm in the next 60 days?
No signs of it so far. If it does do that spread over the next two months it would indeed be a wonderful thing. Steady regular rain results in minimal runoff, saturates the soil slowly and maximises recharge. If on the other hand, the whole lot fell over just a few days, the NWm may emerge statistically correct, but would have wrought havoc and destruction.
I have been periodically photographing the main pond at pointReturn. It has a brim capacity of 1.6 million litres and safe capacity [as shown in the top picture, right] of 1.2 million litres. So far, this has served as the main water storage body at the project.
The scene is like in the top picture in every January, just when the big ticket rain of the NEm has ended. And then depletion begins almost at once, due to percolation and evaporation. By June the pond looks like in the middle picture. Just then, even an average SWm due in July will refill the pond and it will go back to looking something like the top picture again. And with that we ride out the time till the NEm in late October.
This year the July rains failed and the pond did not refill. It went on depleting. About ten days ago, it looked like in the picture at the bottom. Today it looks worse.
In the meantime, average temperatures are in the mid-30s, about 8 degC higher for this time of the year. That abets evaporation. The long suffering windmill keeps turning, most of the time running dry, and periodically pumping the little quantity that collects at the borewell via a few active underground springs. It is known to have pumped 20,000 litres in a day in December-January; today we survive on 1,000 litres or thereabouts that it manages.
Being close to this reality I marvel at how unconcerned our cities are. The local papers that ought to frontpaging the emerging crisis are focused elsewhere. For me, whose income does not depend on the farm produce, it is nevertheless an agonising time. I have redoubled the effort to create more water bodies so that the next year may feel more secure. What of the others dependant on the land? There are murmurs everywhere about evil times and there is resignation. When people go hopeless, the powderkeg comes into view. We are approaching life on the edge.
What ought to be done? That’s another story. I can tell it were I certain it will fall on the right ears. Quite symbolically our prime minister has wrapped his ears over; his face appears vacant of any vision. Instead it appears filled with instructions received decades ago as a diligent student. At a minimum, I will be grateful if he and his cohorts did not enrage me by being regularly photographed with bottles of chilled drinking water in front of them. They are mere dumb models for companies that mine and market water. They cannot see beyond bottled water.