India’s very own Dust Bowl

Remember, the Dust Bowl, a period of severe dust storms that lasted nearly a decade, starting 1931. The dust storms originated in the Great Plains—from states like Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas. They were so severe that they choked everything and blocked out the sun for days. Sometimes, the storms travelled thousands of kilometers. People developed 'dust pneumonia' and experienced chest pain and difficulty in breathing. The storms damaged the soil in around 100 million acres of land, leading to the greatest short-time migration in US history—with approximately 3.5 million people abandoning their farms and fields.
We have mentioned before (here and here) that this phenomenon might return to the US in the very near future.

In the northern regions of India and Pakistan dust storms are an annual weather pattern, normally low in intensity and accompanied by rains. People even welcomed dust storms as they bring down temperatures and herald the arrival of the monsoons. But the dust storms that have hit India since February 2018 have been quantitatively and qualitatively different from those in the past.

They were high-powered storms travelling long distances and destroying properties and agricultural fields. Since February, they have affected as many as 16 states and killed more than 500 people. Cities like Delhi were choked in dust for days, with air quality level reaching the 'Severe' category on most days.
Like their American counterpart, the dust storm regions of India and Pakistan too are largely arid and semi-arid. Over the last 50 years, intensive agriculture has replaced the traditional agriculture. Groundwater levels have fallen sharply. Rampant clearing for agriculture, cities and mining have significantly reduced the forests.

India should rapidly implement measures to counter this ecological disaster, otherwise the problem will only get worse.

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