Moderate to severe drought-like conditions have emerged in the southern parts of the country, including Sindh and Balochistan, where 70 and 46 per cent less than normal rains were received, respectively, during May and August.
This was stated by officials of the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) on Friday who also warned that drought conditions may get severe in the coming days. “When El Nino ends, such conditions emerge, including lesser rains,” PMD Director General Dr Ghulam Rasool told The News. He explained that El Nino is an irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes, which is to blame for less than normal rains in this monsoon season which has resulted in drought-like conditions, especially in southern Pakistan.
According to a drought alert issued by the PMD, due to deficient summer, monsoon rainfall, moderate drought-like conditions have emerged over most of Sindh, including Tharparkar, Matiari, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Dadu, Karachi, Kambar-Shadadkot, Umerkot, Sanghar, Sujawal, Shaheed Benazirabad, Jamshoro and Khairpur districts in Sindh.
Similarly, various parts of southern Balochistan, including Dalbandin, Gwadar, Jiwani, Panjgur, Pasni, Nokkundi, Ormara, Quetta and Turbat were also facing moderate to severe drought due to at least 50 per cent less than normal rains in the monsoon season from May to August.
Officials said mild to moderate drought at a few places of southern Punjab, including Multan and Mianwali, as well as in Bunji, Chilas, Gilgit and Gupis in Gilgit Baltistan was also being reported.
Dry conditions will cause water stress in cultivated areas of the country due to limited supply of irrigation water for Kharif crops, said officials. According to them, water availability in Tarbela Dam is at maximum level, while Mangla Dam is almost half filled to maximum conservation level (almost 65 feet) at Mangla reservoir.
On the other hand, small dams (situated near Islamabad) and ground water conditions have significantly improved at most places of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Due to less water in Mangla reservoir and minimal expected rainfall during the next three months, water shortages are most likely for sowing of Rabi crops.
“Keeping in view the above scenario, it is advised to all stakeholders to be ready to handle the situation,” Rasool, the PMD chief said. He added that they were also expecting less than normal winter rains this year.
Sindh districts drought-hit
After less than 70 per cent normal rains in the province, the Sindh government has declared six districts including Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sangar, Dadu, Thatta and Kambar-Shahdadkot as drought-hit areas.
Overall 167 villages in these districts were declared drought-hit areas and the provincial government has pledged to provide wheat to people in these villages to minimise their suffering. Meanwhile, with 100 per cent less than normal or no rain at all received in Karachi this monsoon season, PMD officials have warned that they were seeing no showers in the month of September as well, which is the last month of the monsoon season in Pakistan.
According to Karachi Met Office Director Abdur Rashid, the city received only traces of rain, which could not even be measured. He said September is the month when tropical cyclones usually occur in the Arabian Sea but at the moment, no cyclonic activity was also being observed, which cause rains in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan.