Shimla, After days of moderate to heavy showers which led to snapping of several road links following landslides, the hills of Himachal Pradesh on Saturday saw subdued rainfall activity, the Met office here said.
“There was no heavy rainfall in the state but precipitation occurred at a few places in the state since Friday,”
He said similar weather conditions are likely to continue in the state till Monday.
Bilaspur town got 29 mm of rain, highest in the state, while Kasauli received 21 mm, Hamirpur 12 mm and picturesque tourist resort Manali 8 mm.
The state capital saw no rainfall.
A government spokesperson said that as rainfall subsided, the water level in the Satluj, the Beas and the Yamuna rivers and their tributaries has started receding.
The Monsoon rains have created a havoc, taking nearly 100 lives in some states, while in other states deficit rainfall has been recorded.
Heavy rains over large parts of Maharashtra since Sunday have caused nearly two dozen rain-related deaths, reports said. The deaths were reported from different parts of northern Maharashtra as Nashik and surroundings were lashed by torrential rains.
In one of the worst tragedies in recent times, two buses of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation with 22 passengers, were washed away in the flooded Saraswati River near Mahad in coastal Raigad district early on Wednesday.
A massive search operation by the state government, four National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard helicopters, police and fire brigade divers and volunteers of adventure groups are helping the search operations.
Almost 15 hours after the tragedy, rescuers found two bodies a short distance away from the disaster site, which is 18 kms from the Arabian Sea on the Konkan coast.
Incessant rains continue to lash coastal Konkan, northern and western Maharashtra for the past five days, with at least 12 persons losing their lives in the past 24 hours in these regions.
Downpours in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Mumbai, Thane and Palghar in Maharashtra have affected normal life, transportation and communication.
However, the rains have not yet reached the parched Marathwada region though the situation has improved in Latur town, which has been getting water through Jaldoot trains since April.
While many areas in Maharashtra are experiencing floods, some parts of Marathwada and western Maharashtra continue to be supplied water through tankers.
Monsoon rains have led to flooding in parts of states like Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in recent days. The ill state Uttarakhand has experienced landslides at some places due to heavy rain.
In Uttar Pradesh, the monsoon has been active in most parts over the last one month. Seventy-five districts have got average to moderately high rainfall, while only 13 districts have experienced deficit rainfall.
Rivers in the state, including Ghaghra, Sharda and Ganga, are in spate and many villages in Bahraich and Barabanki are under water as neighbouring Nepal released several cosecs of water, leading to flooding of many regions on the border.
Officials said that more than 30 people have died in rain-related incidents in July.
Agra has experienced good rainfall this year. Against the annual average rainfall of 650 mm, Agra has already had around 700 mm and the good spell continued with more showers on Wednesday. Two long spells of heavy downpour on Monday virtually paralysed life in the city, with the Balkeshwar Mahadev fair in a total shambles.
“The July rains set a new record this year,” recalled old-timer Munna Lal, a cycle repair shop owner of Moti Lal Nehru Road.
The Yamuna River, which passes through Agra, saw water level rising after heavy discharge upstream.
The Parikrama Marg in Govardhan and Vrindavan are under knee-deep water in several stretches.
Jagan Nath Poddar, convener of the Friends of Vrindavan, said pilgrims are facing problems as repair work is still to begin, despite many complaints. “The Yamuna is full of water which is a very pleasant sight after many years,” he said.
Except Sikkim, most parts of northeast India have so far experienced deficient monsoon rains, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) data said on Wednesday.
The other seven northeastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura — recorded around 14 per cent deficient rains during June 1 to August 2, the IMD report said.
IMD Director Dilip Saha told IANS in Agartala: “Due to inadequate depression and low pressure circulation in the Northeast, the region has so far recorded deficient rainfall. However, the deficiency would be covered in the remaining part of the monsoon.”
However, some parts of the Northeast witnessed excess rainfall.
Due to heavy rains and poor maintenance, National Highway-8 and National Highway-208(A) had turned into muddy quagmires with knee-deep slush over 10 to 20 km area in southern Assam’s Karimganj district adjoining north Tripura, thus virtually snapping Tripura’s surface communication.
The Southwest monsoon that advanced to Kerala on June 8, has been deficient by 25 per cent so far.
In Himachal Pradesh, after days of heavy rainfall, the monsoon is likely to remain subdued till August 5, the Met office said on Wednesday.
Despite 26 per cent deficit rain this monsoon, the rains have claimed 20 lives so far. The damage to public and private property was estimated at over Rs 160 crore, an official said.
He said the towns of Shimla, Mashobra, Narkanda, Kufri, Kasauli, Shimla, Palampur and Manali recorded rainfall.
A government spokesperson said that water level in the Sutlej, Beas and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries, which are in spate in Kinnaur, Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Bilaspur and Sirmaur districts, have start receding with the decline in rainfall.
Even the water level in Pong Dam — one of the state’s major water reservoirs — was still 40 feet lower on Tuesday compared to the last year. The dam is on River Beas.
“The water levels in the Pong dam reservoir stood at 1,326 feet on Tuesday,” an official of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) told IANS.
The water level in the reservoir stood at 1,366 feet on this day last year.
In Haryana, the state government has sounded an alert in Yamunanagar and downstream districts of Yamuna River owing to heavy water inflow from neighbouring Uttarakhand. (IANS)
Improvement in water management will also help in reducing methane emissions and arsenic uptake in the rice fields
De-watering is the practice of removing water from the rice paddies, at least once during the season
“Adopting some form of aerobic rice production will also reduce the release of arsenic from soils to groundwater, and the subsequent uptake of arsenic by rice plants.”
At a time when climate change is set to impact rice production in Asia, simple water management by farmers as an adaptation strategy will minimise the damage, an expert said.
“Climate change will impact rice production in large parts of Asia, including India. Water management will be a key feature of decisions aimed at adapting to the impacts of climate change,” Dennis Wichelns, Senior Research Fellow of Thailand-based Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), said during the Knowledge Forum on Climate Resilient Development in Himalayan and Downstream Regions held in New Delhi recently.
The event was organised jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Delhi-based IEG.
According to Wichelns, improvement in water management will help in areas where higher temperatures are likely and where shift in rainfall pattern is expected.
In certain areas, crop yields will increase in some seasons, perhaps in response to higher rainfall during the production cycle or with a reduction in summer days in the northern regions. In other areas, yields might be reduced due to higher night temperatures, untimely drought conditions, or submergence caused by massive natural events.
According to Wichelns, improvement in water management will also help in reducing methane emissions and arsenic uptake in the rice fields.
“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. It is estimated that up to 20 per cent of the anthropogenic releases of methane to the atmosphere are generated in agriculture, largely by livestock and in rice production,” he said.
“The anaerobic conditions in which paddy rice is produced is largely responsible for the methane generation and release. Methanogenic organisms, which thrive in anaerobic conditions, break down carbonaceous materials and form methane,” he added.
Efforts to reduce methane generation and release in rice production can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emission from agriculture, thus contributing to climate change mitigation,” Wichelns said.
He said rice production generates substantial amount of methane annually, thus adding notably to the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year.
Switching from flooded paddy production to aerobic rice production or to alternative crops that are produced in aerobic conditions can substantially reduce regional methane emissions, Wichelns added.
Nitrous oxide emissions can increase when switching from anaerobic to aerobic production, yet the change in production methods will reduce global warming potential.
“Adopting some form of aerobic rice production will also reduce the release of arsenic from soils to groundwater, and the subsequent uptake of arsenic by rice plants.” Wichelns said.
Arsenic accumulation in rice grain declines sharply when farmers switch from anaerobic to aerobic production methods. Millions of residents of South and Southeast Asia already are exposed to harmful concentrations of arsenic in drinking water. In those areas, and elsewhere, successful efforts to reduce arsenic uptake in rice will be helpful in reducing total exposure, to the benefit of many adults and children who currently consume harmful amounts of arsenic each day, he said.
De-watering is the practice of removing water from the rice paddies, at least once during the season. Normally, paddies are kept flooded for the entire season, from planting to about two weeks ahead of harvest. Substantial methane is generated and released during that time.
“If farmers remove the water for seven to 10 days mid-season, they can substantially reduce methane generation and release. The paddies are re-watered after the de-watering, but the methanogenic organisms will have been greatly reduced during those seven to 10 days,” Wichelns stressed.
The practice allows oxygen to reach the root zone. The oxygen is unfavourable to the methanogenic organisms, yet favourable to rice roots and thus rice productivity. Therefore, the de-watering also contributes to producing more resilient rice plants with stronger root systems, he added.
Much of the rice production in South and Southeast Asia is found in the deltas formed by major rivers, such as the Mekong, Irrawaddy, and Ganges-Brahmaputra. Rice is well-adapted to these deltaic regions, many of which are characterised by monsoonal climates.
“Given the important role of rice production in rural economies across much of Asia, adaptation strategies are needed urgently to ensure that smallholder farmers can continue producing rice for domestic and international markets, while generating sufficient income and ensuring that household and national food security goals are achieved.” he said. (Source: IANS)
Dhami: This Himachal Pradesh town, once a hunter’s paradise of British India, is known for a unique cultural life – a virtual shower of stones to appease Hindu goddess, Kali.
A day after Diwali, the festival of lights, male adults of the town in their colourful best gather in the former princely state of Dhami, some 25 km from state capital Shimla, and pelt one another with small stones.
At least, six people were injured on Thursday and the pelting lasted for more than 15 minutes. It was subsequently stopped as one of the participants started bleeding profusely, a government official told IANS.
In local parlance, the ritual is known as ‘pattharon ka mela’ (fair of stones).
The pelting of stones is between two groups – one representing the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Dhami and the others comprising the commoners – over a circular structure, where a rani or queen had committed ‘sati’ or the former practice of a widow throwing herself onto her husband’s funeral pyre.
Old-timers say it was a bloody affair in the past.
“The practice was introduced centuries ago to shun the tradition of ‘narbali’ (human sacrifice) that was prevalent here also like other parts in the state,” octogenarian Dhyan Chand told IANS.
Earlier, there used to be a bloody affair at the stone pelting ritual, he said. “Nowadays with the intervention of human rights groups and the deployment of adequate police, it has become more a ritual exercise and the participation is getting lesser each year.”
A local committee, mainly comprising descendants of the erstwhile royal family, is the ritual organiser.
To avoid a bloody clash, the government deployed adequate police and medical teams.
The ‘battle’ of stones commences after the deity of the Narsingh temple in over 250-year old Halog, the crumbling palace, arrives at the Kali temple also located in the town.
The stone pelting exercise takes place between the residents of Halog, the erstwhile capital of Dhami estate, and neighbouring village Jamog.
As per the belief, a devotee who gets injuries in stone-pelting is considered a devout of goddess Kali. The oozing blood is applied as a ’tilak’ to the goddess.
The one-day fair was attended by locals and tourists in good strength.
On this day, the locals buy farm implements to ensure prosperity and protection from natural calamities.
“We normally buy implements on this auspicious occasion,” farmer Bhim Sen said.
Goddess Kali personifies ‘shakti’ or divine energy and considered the goddess of time and change and is widely worshipped in Hinduism.