• Achievers Facebook Page  Achievers Twitter Page  Achievers Google plus Page  Achievers Telegram Page
#1360, 2nd floor, Marenhalli, 100ft road,
Jayanagar 9th Block, Bangalore-560069.
IAS Coaching in Bangalore



GS Paper 3 – Disaster and Disaster management.



Drought is a temporary aberration, unlike aridity or even seasonal aridity (in terms of a well-defined dry season), which is a permanent feature of climate. Drought in contrast is a recurrent, yet sporadic feature of climate, known to occur under all climatic regimes and is usually characterized by variability in terms of its spatial expanse, intensity and duration. Conditions of drought appear primarily, though not solely, on account of substantial rainfall deviation from the normal and / or the skewed nature of the spatial / temporal distribution to a degree that inflicts an adverse impact on crops over an agricultural season or successive seasons.

                    Drought is generally considered as a deficiency in rainfall /precipitation over an extended period, usually a season or more, resulting in a water shortage causing adverse impacts on vegetation, animals, and/or people. There is no single, legally accepted definition of drought in India. Some states resort to their own definitions of drought. State Government is the final authority when it comes to declaring a region as drought affected.



The India Meteorological Department (IMD) declared that 255 districts (31% of the districts in India) of the country recorded deficient (-59 to -20 per cent) or scanty (-99 to -60) rainfall, thus facing drought like conditions. More than 50 per cent of the districts in Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa received deficient rainfall. Despite persisting drought like conditions, many states did not declare, officially, the drought.


Causes of Recurring droughts in India

  • A deficiency in rainfall causes depletion of soil moisture, fall in  surface and ground water levels which in turn is likely to have a deleterious effect on agricultural operations, due to insufficient availability of water for the crops, especially during the critical stages of plant growth. The correlation between quantum of rainfall and the trigger for drought in India vary across agro-climatic zones.
  • Uneven distribution of rainfall over different parts of the country in that some parts bear an inordinately high risk of shortfalls, while others tend to receive excessive rainfall.
  • Over-exploitation of ground water and sub-optimum conservation and storage capacity of surface water leading to inadequate water availability for irrigation, particularly in the years of rainfall deficiency.
  • Limited irrigation coverage (net irrigated area in the country is less than 50%) exacerbates the impact of drought on account of complete dependence of agriculture in such areas on rainfall.


Drought monitoring and early warning systems

 Institutional Structures

Central Drought Relief Commissioner (CDRC)

Crop Weather Watch Group

State Drought Monitoring Centres


Scientific & Support Organisations

India Meteorological Department (IMD)

Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre(MNCFC)

Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA)

Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and

          Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD & GR)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

State Remote Sensing Application Centres (SRSACs)       




The Declaration of drought

The Manual for Drought Management, released in December 2016 by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, prescribes “new scientific indices and parameters” for a “more accurate assessment of drought” in the country.

The manual lists five categories of indices, which include rainfall, agriculture, soil moisture, hydrology, and remote sensing (health of crops).

The intensity of the drought will be contingent upon the values of at least three out of four Impact Indicators viz, Agriculture, Remote Sensing, Soil Moisture and Hydrology in the following manner:  

  • Severe drought: if at least 2 of the selected 3 impact indicators are in Severe category and one is in Moderate category
  • Moderate drought: if at least two of the selected 3 impact indicators are in ‘Moderate’ category.
  • Normal: for all other cases.

The State Governments declare drought through a notification specifying clearly the geographical extent and administrative units such as Gram Panchayats, Blocks, Mandals, Taluks, Subdivision, Districts. Such notification should also indicate the level of severity of the drought (moderate or severe).



The 2016 manual not only has made the parameters to declare drought complex and stringent, but has also limited Centre’s scope to offer financial assistance to states in the eventuality of a drought. The Centre will only provide funds under National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to state governments in case of "Severe" drought. Since the yardstick to measure the severity of drought is stricter, the new conditions make it more difficult for the states to prove "severe" drought and get relief from the Centre. This is a double whammy for most states as they lack drought early warning systems.  After protest by various states, however, a 29th May 2018 Amendment to the Drought Manual, 2016 says that a state can ask for assistance for even a moderate category drought provided it is unable to meet drought relief through SDRF.


Previous Year Questions

  1. How important are vulnerability and risk assessment for pre-disaster management? As an administrator, what are key areas that you would focus on in a Disaster Management System? (2013)
  2. Enumerate the National Water Policy of India. Taking river Ganges as an example, discuss the strategies which may be adopted for river water pollution control and management. What are the legal provisions of management and handling of hazardous wastes in India? (2013)
  3. Drought has been recognized as a disaster in view of its spatial expanse, temporal duration, slow onset and lasting effects on vulnerable sections. With a focus on the September 2010 guidelines from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), discuss the mechanisms for preparedness to deal with likely El Nino and La Nina fallouts in India. (2014)