Relief in sight, IMD predicts above normal rainfall across India this year
New Delhi: In an indication that the drought spell that many parts of India have been reeling under for the past two years may come to an end, the India Meteorological Department today said that India is likely to witness above normal monsoon this year.
According to the IMD, Indian monsoon will be 106 per cent of long period average this year.
"The monsoon rains could be above average, as the El Nino weather pattern, which can lead to dry spells in South Asia, is gradually fading and giving way to La Nina," an IMD official said.
The new forecast is likely to boost the farm sector after two straight years of drought. More clarity is expected on this when the Met department releases the second set of monsoon forecast in the month of June in this year.
The forecast comes at a time when many states are reeling under severe drought situations, forcing the governments and courts to initiate emergency steps.
A plea in the Bombay High Court sought to shift matches of IPL 2016 out of the western state of Maharashtra to save water, as most of the part of state is suffering from severe drought.
The High Court had rapped the BCCI and the Cricket Associations of Maharashtra over the heavy usage of water when the state is reeling under severe water crisis suggesting that IPL matches should be shifted elsewhere.
According to official data, more than 90 lakh farmers in Maharasthra have been adversely affected by the drought. It has devastated the kharif crop and will continue to distress its cultivators.
The figure is two-thirds of the total of 1.37 crore farmers and is almost on a par with the population of Sweden.
The impact of the drought was seen mainly in Mararthvada and Vidarbha regions. The state which is known for its farm crisis and reports the maximum number of farmers' suicides became a victim of inadequate and delayed monsoon.
It comes close on the heels of the crop distress wreaked by the hailstorms last year which hit cultivators hard.
Several other states in India are also faced with a similar crisis and the prediction, if proven true, could come as a huge relief to farmers, residents as well as state governments who have come under heavy fire from the top courts of the country over their alleged lack of preparedness to deal with such extremities.
Earlier, private weather forecasting agency Skymet has predicted an ‘above normal’ Southwest monsoon this year.
The forecast of above normal monsoon would augur well for the agriculture sector which is under stress due to two consecutive years of poor seasonal rainfall.
The country, it said, will get 5% more rain than the normal 887 mm that it gets in the monsoon months of June, July, August and September. There was only a 15% chance of the monsoon being ‘below normal,’ defined as monsoon rains being less than 95% of the normal.
"There is 35 per cent chance of above normal seasonal rainfall that is between 105 to 110 per cent of Long Period Average (LPA), while there are 30 per cent chance of normal (between 96 to 104 per cent of LPA)," the Skymet said in its forecast for this year on Monday.
The western coast would see ‘fairly good rains’ and the latter half of the monsoon was likely to see better rainfall than the first half, it said.
Rainfall in June is likely to be 10% deficient with a pickup expected in July and August, the most important months as far as cropping is concerned, it said.
A good monsoon this year is critical to boost agricultural productivity as well as farm incomes, especially on the back of successive monsoon failures in 2014 and 2015.
“We have more confidence in our weather forecasting models this time than last year,” Jatin Singh, CEO, Skymet, said.
Skymet said that it expected the monsoon to set in on time over Kerala in the week around June 1.