NEW DELHI: In what could pose a big challenge to the Centre, the monsoon rainfall over the country is expected to be deficient this year. Raising fears of drought, the weather office downgraded earlier forecast from normal rainfall to deficit, owing to development of El Nino conditions caused by rise in sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. The central bank also expressed concern over deficit monsoon.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) in revised forecast issued Tuesday said that rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2015 southwest monsoon season (June to September) is likely to be deficient at 88 percent. In April, IMD has forecast monsoon to be normal at 93 percent. Country received 12 percent less rainfall in 2014, affecting production of grains.
The union government has already swung into action with Prime Minister Narendra Modi closely monitoring the developments and directing all concerned ministries to make necessary preparations and take action so that the common man is not affected. Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth held a meeting of top officials to discuss the situation and put in place necessary measures.
"The latest forecast is bothering me as the rainfall this monsoon is likely to be 88 percent-- plus or minus four percent -- of normal rainfall which is down from 93 percent in April,” said Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan.
The worst effected will be the northwest India which covers country’s grain bowl states of Haryana and Punjab. It is likely to receive just 85 percent of normal rainfall. Region wise monsoon rainfall forecast is 90 percent over Central India followed by 92 percent over South Peninsula and 90 percent over northeast.
The onset of monsoon has been delayed and is now expected to touch Kerala by June 5. Earlier, The IMD has forecast May 30 as the date for onset of monsoon against the usual June 1. El Nino condition is linked to weakening of monsoon and it had led to deficit rainfall in previous years.We have been working to ensure that the forecast is right. But this time let's pray to God that the revised forecast does not come true," said the minister adding that IMD only predicts about the weather and refused to comment on chances of drought.
Agriculture, which employs about 60 percent of the country's population, is heavily dependent on the monsoon as only 40 percent of the cultivable area is under irrigation. The timely onset of the South-West monsoon is crucial for sowing of kharif (summer) crops such as paddy.
The country has witnessed farmer suicides in some states after unseasonal rains in March this year. Following which, the government had announced relaxation of norms of compensation for loss of crops due to natural calamities. Total foodgrains production has declined to 251.12 million tonnes in the 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from a record production of 265.04 million tonnes in the last year.