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Monsoon projection: IMD cautious

June 24, 2009 03:16 IST

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) seems to have taken a cautious stand over the World Meteorological Organisation's (WMO) projection of a 'poor monsoon' due to a probable 'El Nino' impact. The IMD did not agree with WMO's projections, saying, "El Nino and the progress of monsoon are not mutually exclusive events", and  remained non-committal over its earlier projection of a "normal monsoon" for the June-September 2009 season.

"We will consider the possibility of the "El Nino" impact on the progress of monsoon in India and then announce a final projection on June 25 in New Delhi. Till then, we would not like to comment on the 'El Nino factor' discussed by the WMO," A B Mazumdar, deputy director general, IMD, Pune, said.

Interestingly, top scientists and researchers from the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) expressed concerns over the development of "El Nino" in the Pacific Ocean region.

"If El Nino impact is built in the central portion of the Pacific Ocean, then there is every chance of the same having an adverse impact on the progress of monsoon in India," scientists maintained.

The IMD has been predicting a normal monsoon during the June-September season since March. However, the south-western winds did not progress across the country even after hitting Kerala at the right time on May 23. The WMO has predicted a "greater than average" chance of an "El Nino" known globally for droughts and adverse weather conditions, building over the Pacific Ocean.

The report suggests that India had experienced a severe drought during the year 2004 when a similar 'El Nino' condition was observed. The delayed monsoon has already caused a shortfall of rains by 45 per cent in June. The WMO report has  expressed concerns over the progress of monsoon in the wake of a probable 'El Nino' formation.

This development is very significant as the "delayed monsoon" brings along a big risk to the Indian economy because of its adverse impact on the summer crops (kharif). The sowing for the kharif season happens during the months of July and August and this is the period when India receives almost 65 per cent of its annual rain fall. This rainfall is more crucial since more than 60 per cent of kharif cultivation is directly dependent on the monsoon.

This comes as a complete contrast to the IMD projections of a normal rainfall during the season. Mazumdar further stated, "El Nino impact is developed far away from India and hence, it does not necessarily affect Indian rains. While the year 2004 (when El Nino had developed) saw a severe drought across India, we must remember the year 1997, when the country received heavy rains even with an intense El Nino situation. Hence, we would not like to associate with the WMO report as of now." When asked, if the IMD expects a curtailed monsoon during the June-September period, Mazumdar avoided comment.

IITM scientist Krishna Kumar said, "The progress of the monsoon has been severely hit. If El Nino impact is built within the Pacific Ocean, then there are chances of the monsoon progress being hit further. Although, there is not a direct relation between these two things, a possibility of an adverse impact cannot be ruled out." Kumar added, "Indian monsoon is hit only when the El Nino is built in the central region of the Pacific Ocean. There have been El Nino instances in the Eastern region, which did not hit the monsoon. Hence, we must observe the development of El Nino and only then, we can predict its impact."

Another researcher from IITM pointed out at the chances of further subtraction of the monsoon over next two weeks. "We have observed moderate indications of an El Nino development. And therefore, we have so far had a poor progress. This can be associated with the developing El Nino. Still, we cannot draw any conclusions at this point of time," the researcher said.

 

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