After two months of severe dry spell, it is the season of good monsoon across India. The monsoon showers that have lashed across south, north and northeastern states have relieved farmers, uplifted the stock markets and might even compel the agricultural ministry to revise its food grains output estimates.
But incessant rains over the past one week have brought 17 of Assam's 24 districts in the grip of floods. Officials estimate in Assam that some 20 people have already died and more than 600,000 people have been displaced and some 1,116 villages have been inundated due to flood.
While the floodwaters of the mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries are playing havoc with Assam, the rains have brought cheers to the farmers in the states like Andhra Pradesh, which was the worst heat wave-hit state a month back.
Andhra Pradesh's meteorological centre director C V V Bhadram said that though the rains were delayed for a week this year, the monsoon has now covered most parts of Andhra Pradesh.
The heat wave had claimed nearly 1,400 lives in Andhra Pradesh alone in June. Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi were similarly affected. But the rains that got to a delayed start at the Kerala coast on June 10 has now spread across the country, making the Indian Meteorological Department to term this year's monsoon in the country as 'perfectly normal'.
According to R C Vashishtha, a senior official at the IMD, it is a good monsoon season this year because of the existence of the basic parameters such as 'cyclonic pressure, humidity and wind speed'.
The IMD official pointed out that compared to 2002, the monsoon this year has been 'spectacular'.
The monsoon 2002 started with an optimistic note with a forecast of normal rainfall. The take off of rainfall activity in the month of June 2002 was quite satisfactory. But the vigor of monsoon dissipated in the last week of June as a result of which the rains failed to advance and cover a large part of the northwest India last year.
Last year, poor monsoon thus had led to a severe drought in several Indian states, which badly affected the agricultural crops and food stocks.
According to a release from the Agriculture Ministry, heavy to very heavy rainfall occurred at many places over Gujarat Region, Konkan & Goa, Coastal Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Orissa, Gangetic West Bengal, Sub-Himalayan West Bengal & Sikkim and Assam & Meghalaya.
Moderate to heavy rainfall occurred at a few places over Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Met office said that the rainfall was excess to normal in 29 out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions of the country, while it was deficient in 7 out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions of the country.
The Met office also said all over India, the rainfall has received 57 per cent above normal.
One of the major surprises of this year's monsoon has been Delhi, where the rains arrived more than a week ahead of the schedule on June 29. Not only Delhi, the other adjoining states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana also received good showers that the agricultural output in the entire north is expected to be quite high this year.
The widespread rains have brought optimism to the farmers across the country, many of whom were worried that their crops would perish due to the continuing sweltering heat all over.
Officials at the agricultural ministry said the government might soon revise the estimates for kharif output this year because of the good monsoon. In May, the mjinistry had indicated that there would be a shortfall of 28 million tonnes of food grains output in 2002-2003.
The latest estimates of food grains production with the Ministry point out that total output this year will be to the tune of around 183 million tonnes.
Officials at southern India's leading stock market firm JRG Associates said that a good monsoon has led to 'a robust rise in the share market'. "Good rains this year indicate that the agricultural sector will do extremely well. It will have a good, ripple effect on the stock markets in particular and the Indian economy in general," JRG managing director Regi Jacob said.
He said the share indices of the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange have been steadily rising in the last three weeks, mainly due to the favourable monsoon across the country.