Monsoon outlook bleak, 23 pc shortfall already

It might still be too early to say so but indications of a good monsoon this season are fast receding. With the first month of the four-month season almost over, there is already a 23 per cent deficiency in rainfall, and the monsoon has entered another weak phase which is unlikely to revive before the end of this month.

What is worse is that the forecast for the next two months released by the Met department last week is not very encouraging either. Both these months are predicted to bring below-normal rains, even though only marginally less 98 per cent of the average in July and 96 per cent in August. Unless there is very good rainfall in September, it is difficult to see how the current deficiency can be compensated for.

"It is true that the conditions are not very favourable as of now. June has seen deficient rainfall. But it is still early days. Hopefully, July and August will bring better rainfall," said Dr Swati Basu, director of the Noida-based National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, who is also officiating as the director general of the Indian Meteorological Department as of now.

Dr M Mahapatra of the IMD said a revival of the monsoon winds was not expected before the end of this month. "The monsoon is in a weak phase as of now. It is expected to strengthen by the end of this month or the first few days of next month. Currently there is no cyclonic circulation, or a low pressure area, over the Bay of Bengal and the easterly winds are weak because of which the pull of the monsoon winds over north and northwestern parts of the country is not happening," he said.

But he also said it was not a hopeless situation as yet. "Around June 15, the deficiency was about 42 per cent. Now it has come down to 23 per cent. So things can improve further. July is going to be absolutely crucial. That is when the paddy sowing will take place. That requires at least five inches of standing water. If it rains well in July and the prediction says it would be almost normal we should not have much problem as far as sowing is concerned," he said.

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