India says 330 million hit by drought

Farmers from the different drought affected districts of Maharashtra collects water from the water tank near a temporary refugee camp in Mumbai, India,Image copyright
EPA

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India is heavily dependant on monsoon rains which have been poor for the past two years

The Indian government has told the Supreme Court that 330 million people are affected by drought in the country.

It said that nearly 256 districts across India, home to nearly a quarter of the population were impacted.

Authorities say this number is likely to rise further given that some states with water shortages have not yet submitted status reports.

India is heavily dependant on monsoon rains, which have been poor for two years in a row.

The drought is taking place as a heat wave extends across much of India with temperatures exceeding 40C for several days now.

Schools have been shut in the eastern state of Orissa and more than 100 deaths due to heat stroke have been reported from across the country, including from the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh which saw more than 2,000 deaths last summer.

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The drought is taking place as a heat wave extends across much of India with temperatures exceeding 40C for several days in a row

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Another water train carrying 2.5 million litres of water is scheduled to reach Latur in Maharashtra on Wednesday

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There is growing public concern over the lack of water in the country

The western state of Maharashtra, one of the worst affected by the drought, shifted out 13 Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches due to be played in the state next month because of the amount of water needed to prepare pitches.

There is growing public concern over the lack of water in many parts of the state following two successive years of drought and crop failures.

The government has asked local municipalities to stop supplying water to swimming pools and, in an unprecedented move, a train carrying half a million litres of drinking water was sent to the area of Latur.

Another train carrying 2.5 million litres of water is scheduled to reach there on Wednesday.

States like Punjab and Haryana in northern India are squabbling over ownership of river waters.

In water-scarce Orissa, farmers have reportedly breached embankments to save their crops.

Water availability in India’s 91 reservoirs is at its lowest in a decade, with stocks at a paltry 29% of their total storage capacity, according to the Central Water Commission.

Some 85% of the country’s drinking water comes from aquifers, but their levels are falling, according to WaterAid.



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