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'Monsoon likely to be normal this year'

April 23, 2013 14:21 IST

This year, the southwest monsoon in India is expected to be normal, at about 100 per cent of the long period average (LPA), according to a senior government official.

He added on an average, India received about 89 centimetres of rainfall (LPA) during the four-month southwest monsoon season starting June. This year, the rainfall would either be equal to or higher than this.

It is expected the India Meteorological Department would release its official forecast for the 2013 southwest monsoon later this week. “We feel it should be about 100 per cent of the LPA,” the official said.

Monsoon rains at 96-104 per cent of the LPA are considered normal, according to the meteorological department. While 105-110 per cent of the LPA is considered above-normal, more than 110 per cent is considered excess.

Rains between 90 and 94 per cent of the LPA are considered below-normal; less than 90 per cent of the LPA signifies a drought.

Last week, the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum had said this year, the southwest monsoon in the entire South Asian region was likely to be normal, with a strong possibility of rains exceeding the normal range.

Sascof is a sub-regional body of the World Meteorological Organization, devoted to monsoon predictions, etc. Members of the forum include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.

The forum held its fourth annual meeting in Kathmandu on April 18 and 19.

The monsoon, a key factor in determining how the Indian economy fares this financial year, was less than normal in 2012. Last year, it began on a brisk note, but lost momentum mid-way into the season.

This hit kharif foodgrain production. According to government estimates, in 2012-13, India’s overall foodgrain production is expected at 250-255 million tonnes, against the record output of 259 million tonnes in 2011-12.

During the later half of the season last year, rains picked up pace.

In 2012-13, agriculture and allied sectors are estimated to have grown 1.8 per cent, against 3.6 per cent in the previous financial year.

The overall economy is estimated to have grown at a decade-low of five per cent, against 6.2 per cent in 2011-12. For this financial year, the government has pegged economic growth at 6.1-6.7 per cent.

The wide projection range points to the uncertainty ahead.

In case the monsoon is a normal one, agriculture would lend a degree of certainty to the economy.

The El Nino phenomenon, known to result in low rains during the monsoon, is expected to remain neutral in the next three months.

“Current atmospheric and oceanic observations show a neutral El Nino Southern Oscillation state, while model forecasts unanimously show a persistence of this neutral pattern for the remainder of autumn in the southern hemisphere and into early winter. In other words, the development of either an El Nino or a La Nina is very unlikely in the coming three months,” the Australian Weather Bureau said in its last forecast.

Domestic private weather forecaster Skymet, too, said this year, the southwest monsoon was expected to be normal. It said rains were likely to stand at 103 per cent of the LPA, with the possibility of a slight fall in the overall precipitation around August.

Sanjeeb Mukherjee in New Delhi
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