ACCORDING to Baljibhai Bhanushali, a farmer from Naliya in Abdasa taluka which is among the driest areas in Kutch, the irrigation pattern in the district has undergone a sea change. With plenty of rainfall, farmers are now depending less on groundwater and more on rainwater to irrigate their fields, a phenomenon foreign to the region till now, he says. While global warming and the resultant climate change has been a burning issue elsewhere, a Bhuj-based environmental activist claims it has been manna from heaven for arid Kutch.
According to Bhuj-based NGO, Arid Communities and Technologies (ACT) Secretary, Yogesh Jadeja, the level of humidity across Kutch during 1991-2001 was 14 per cent during the day and between 8 to 9 per cent at night during the pre-monsoon period. But in the last few years, the humidity levels have gone up to nearly 25 to 30 per cent, which according to him is a significant indicator of changing climatic conditions.
While groundwater levels have risen by a metre or a metre-and-a-half in some areas of western Kutch, rainfall, too, has increased considerably over the years. “While the gaps between showers has increased, the average rainfall has been higher. From 330 mm in 1991, the average rainfall increased to 340 in 2001. If you look at rainfall received in the last few years, the average has already crossed the 400-mm mark,” he says. “This change is a direct ramification of global warming,” he says adding that while the process of desertification has already set in in the high rainfall areas in the Northeast, floods are becoming a recurring reality in the deserts of Rajasthan.
“Most of the rivers flooding Rajasthan pass through Bhal or the Little Rann of Kutch. The excess water that the rivers carry due to flooding would have direct bearings in the agricultural pattern in Kutch. Floodwater from Rajasthan would eventually flow through arid areas of Gujarat. The silt it would bring along would raise fertility levels here. The enhanced rainfall and higher levels of fertility would benefit the farmers,” he adds. According to Jadeja, with more water being retained in the atmosphere, the leafy plants, which used to shed their leaves in late February or early March are now retaining their leaves much longer. Water retention in the ground and by the plants would prove beneficial to the district if there is a concerted effort to increase the green cover in the district, he says.
However, agriculturalist Kapil Shah feel that it is too premature to say that the vegetation pattern in Kutch is changing.
The proliferation of ‘gando bawal,’ (Prosopis Julifera) is already being observed in grasslands of Kutch, and the current trend of higher rainfall would only escalate the process further, thus posing a threat to the grasslands, he says. However, enhanced humidity levels are only among the contributing factors, he says.
Courtesy: Ahmedabad Newsline - Ahmedabad,India