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Karnataka approves Rs30 crore cloud seeding project after deficient monsoon rains

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-07-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Wednesday approved Rs30 crore for cloud seeding to be carried out over catchment areas, after monsoons failed in the state for the third consecutive year.

Bengaluru-based Hoysala Projects Pvt. Ltd has been awarded the contract for cloud seeding that will require it to be taken up within 60 days in three major catchment areas of Cauvery, Malaprabha and Tungabhadra rivers in the state.

The state is yet again forced to rely on artificial intervention like cloud seeding—a scientific method to change weather conditions by spreading dry ice on clouds—to help it get through what is increasingly looking like another drought year.

Yet to recover from the past two years of severe drought, Karnataka faces a challenging task to cope with growing loss in agricultural productivity and acute shortage of drinking water supply.

Law minister T.B. Jayachandra said there were no signs of good monsoons in the state despite it being more than a month since the onset of the season. He said that data from across the state pointed to deficient rainfall, forcing the state to rely on technology to mitigate the impact.

The possibility of drought stares at Karnataka despite the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasting normal rains—96% of a 50-year average of 89cm—across the country this year. India defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96% and 104% of the 50-year average.

Successive droughts and the apex court’s directions to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu has seen farmer unrest grow in the state since September last year.

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government on 22 June announced waiver off up to Rs50,000 per farmer for crop and short-term loans worth Rs8,165 crore to reduce the burden of rising debt on farmers. Karnataka became one of four states to announce farm loan waiver. Other states to do so are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra.

Siddaramaiah has also requested the Centre to waive off farm loans taken from commercial and nationalised banks, a request unlikely to be fulfilled.

The state government is also attempting to find long-term solutions to mitigate frequent droughts in Karnataka like taking to millet production which requires less water and piloting with projects like drip irrigation for water-intensive crops like sugarcane.

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