Problem of Drought in Bihar And Their Possible Solutions

Thursday, August 13, 2020

According to Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA), in the absence of inadequate rainfall in most parts of Bihar, faces drought including North Bihar which is prone to floods. But the most vulnerable part of Bihar is South and South-West Bihar. Which faces drought after every 2-3 year. (Also Read: Flood Problem of Bihar and their Solutions)

Drought Prone Areas of Bihar

According to BSDMA the districts which are worse affected by drought are Munger, Nawada, Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas and Bhojpur.

Causes of Drought in Bihar

Dependence on Monsoon Rainfall

Bihar is heavily dependent on Rainfall for cultivation of crops. Bihar receives on average 108 cm rainfall every year and about 85% of it happens during Monsoon. But this rainfall is not constant in every year Monsoon rainfall in Bihar (especially South Bihar) is highly inconsistent in some year it is much higher than the average while in some year it is much lower than the average rainfall, and after every 2-3 year drought like situations arises.

Lack of Proper Irrigation Facilities

According to the data of Irrigation Department of Bihar Government, only about less than 50% of farm lands are irrigated out of which 63% comes from tube wells, 31% comes from proper irrigation projects (canals) and rest 4% comes from other sources. Hence more than 50% of farm lands are dependent on rainfall, which makes farming vulnerable here. Further large number of tube wells are degrading the Ground water level. Which is another aspect of drought in Bihar.

Only 8 districts of South Bihar have proper irrigation system through canals. These districts are Kaimur, Banka and Lakhisarai. But rest of South Bihar is dependent on Rainfall.

Decreased Number of Ponds

The number of Tanks and ponds are decreased tremendously, which are important for such regions as it make water available  for almost whole year as well as those help in increasing the ground water level also. Practice of outdated irrigation system in which very large amount of water get wasted is also a major cause of drought in Bihar.

Decline in Forest Area

According to the data of India State of Forest Report (IFSR) 2019, Bihar has only 7.76% forest area out of its total geographical area, which is very less than the recommended level of 33% for India. Since trees are effective in reducing the speed of wind and causing rainfall, hence this is a serious concern for the State.


Failure of Crops

Due to drought crops get damaged and hence farmers suffers heavily and some of them even go into destitution and faces the danger of hunger and malnutrition.


Since more than 80% of the population of Bihar are engaged in Agriculture and allied sectors. Hence, drought results into lose of employments of not only farmers but also many others who are some how involved directly or indirectly in agriculture and allied activities.


Unemployment and destitution leads to large scale migration of people from Bihar to mega cities and even to farmlands of Punjab  & Haryana in search of livelihood.

Decline in State's Economy 

Since agriculture contributes only about 19.3% in states total GDP. And further decline in face of drought. It also causes a ripple effect and causes in the decline of the contribution of other sectors in the GDP also. Hence, in turn economy of the state shrinks with the drought.

Environmental Degradation

Since drought brings decline in Groundwater level. which results into drying of trees and hence the forest/tree cover in the state decreases, which is already very less (7.76% of the total geographical area). And decline in forest cover results into various environmental hazards like rise in average temperature, rise in Carbon Dioxide etc. And in turn result into many environmental and health hazards.

Possible Solutions of the Drought Problems

Building Dams

Since in South and South-West Bihar, most of the rivers are non-perennial (which flow only during rainy season) and some of them also cause minor flood during the period of Monsoon. Hence, the excess water of these rivers during monsoon can be trapped by building dams and irrigation canals on these rivers.  Dams are one of the best solutions to the problem of drought in South and South-West parts of Bihar.

Besides controlling floods and increasing irrigation intensity, dams have many other benefits like cheap electricity, enhance groundwater level and all year water availability in these non-perennial rivers.

Lift Irrigation Canals

Although South Bihar is sloping upwards from the Banks of the Ganga in North to Chhotanagpur plateau region of Bihar in South, with an average gradient of 6 cm per km. But canals are possible to be built using technics such as Lift Irrigation or under ground water tunnel system. Government can build lift irrigation canals from the Ganga to South and South-West Bihar. Such a project is already under construction in Telangana, where Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project is being built by the Government of Telangana on Godavari. Hence why not in Bihar?

Interlinking of River

Although rivers in South Bihar are seasonal but linking of these rivers will reduce the wastage of water in Ganga during Monsoon as well as these can reduce the overload of water in Ganga during Monsoon, which can control floods in North Bihar at some level. 

It will also increase the ground water level in South Bihar. Hence interlinking also increase the groundwater level in South Bihar. Hence interlinking of rivers also a good solution drought as well as flood.

Promote Pond/Tank Culture

Promote ancient pond/tank culture at village/community/individual level, which was in use from ancient times should be encouraged. In recent times, number of ponds decreased significantly, while some villages do not have a single pond. Ponds will also give an alternative livelihood for vulnerable farmers as it can be used for fishing (pisciculture).

Promote Rainwater Harvesting

Instead of exploiting ground water people can harvest the rainwater and can be used for agriculture as well as for domestic purposes.

Other Solutions

  • Early warning and monitoring on the basis of long, medium and short term forecast .
  • Rejuvenate traditional Rainwater system viz rivers, Nalas, Tanks and ponds before the start of Monsoon season.
  • Seek alternative farming or dry  farming and encourage farmers to cultivate less water consuming crops such as pulses, oilseeds maize and potato.
  • Livestock, animal husbandry, fishing and poultry farming should be promoted to reduce stress on fragile arid ecosystem.
  • Ensure timely availability of credit and crop insurance to farmers to face the drought like situations easily.
  • Government should promote appropriate land use planning, so that cropping can be done according to soil for this purpose soil mapping should be done.