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Monsoon forecast may be delayed

April 17, 2012 12:27 IST

MonsoonThe much-awaited official forecast of southwest monsoon in the country is not likely to be released before April 25.

Usually, the annual monsoon forecast is released around mid-April.

Though officials in India Meteorological Department said the delay should not be interpreted as below-normal rainfall in the country this year, the agriculture ministry feels the delay could impact its contingency plans, in case of eventualities.

IMD officials said the delay was because the meteorological office wanted to first debate the patterns and models for rainfall in 2012 at meeting of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum in Pune this week.

The Sascof, an annual affair, analyses the pattern of the southwest monsoon over the entire Indian sub-continent, with particular reference to India.

Inputs by Sascof are considered valuable in understanding the pattern of rainfall over the region.

"The official forecast would be released only after that -- sometime between 25 and 27 of this month," said a senior IMD official.

The monsoon picture would become clear only after that, he added.

However, the delay in the forecast may have been entirely due to procedural reasons, and the agriculture ministry is not to happy about this.

Ministry officials felt the delay in bringing out the official monsoon forecast by IMD leaves them with very little time to take any significant corrective measures, in case the forecast falls short of expectations.

"By May, most farmers finalise their sowing plans.

Hence, if the forecast is unfavourable, it leaves very little time for the ministry to make any significant intervention to reduce the losses," said a senior ministry official.

He, however, added the department had started taking corrective measures to prevent any eventuality.

It had also sent detailed district-wise advisories to face any unforeseen weather conditions, like delayed monsoon or uneven rains, he said.

This year, the forecast for the southwest monsoon has assumed added importance because of the somewhat unfavourable forecast by a few foreign agencies.

The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University predicted little chances of India getting above-normal monsoon this year.

The UK's meteorological office, in its long-range global weather forecast, said the chance of India getting above-normal rainfall in July-September was only 40 per cent.

"We will take the opinions and predictions of all agencies, including foreign ones, to come to our own conclusion, based on our own model," said the IMD official.

Sanjeeb Mukherjee in New Delhi
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