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Below normal monsoon this season: Government

June 24, 2009 18:27 IST
South-west monsoon is likely to be below normal this season, government announced on Wednesday raising concerns about its impact on agriculture and economy.

"South-west monsoon from June to September is likely to be below normal," Earth Sciences Minister Prithviraj Chavan told mediapersons in New Delhi.

He said quantitatively, monsoon rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be 93 per cent of the long-period average.

This is three per cent less than what the India Meteorological Department had forecast in April. Chavan was subjected to a volley of questions, including whether he visualised the monsoon scenario as worrisome, whether the country is in for a drought and whether he foresaw a situation of water-rationing.

"I will not call it worrisome as of now," he said downplaying questions about water scarcity and drought.

"Plans are in place in every department of government of India as to what needs to be done when there is excess or deficient rains," was his refrain.

According to the forecast, the north-western region of the country is likely to get deficient rains while monsoon is expected to be below normal in north-east and peninsular India.

Central India, which is yet to receive rains, is expected to have a normal monsoon.

Farmers in most parts of the country had to defer sowing for major cash crops like sugarcane, rice, bajra, maize and monsoon failure may make the task of sustaining growth rates more challenging for the government.

Although farm sector accounts for less than 20 per cent of gross domestic product, the country was hoping that a good crop would prop up growth, especially when other sectors are not doing so well given the global slowdown.

Soon after the early onset of monsoon on May 23, cyclone Aila disrupted the annual rainfall system which had showed signs of revival only last week.

However, weather scientists expect the monsoon system to gather momentum in the next couple of days and most parts of the country will receive "good rains" in July and August, key months for the farm sector.

"Rainfall over the country as a whole in the month of July is likely to be 93 per cent of the Long Period Average and that in the month of August is likely to be 101 per cent of the LPA," Chavan said.

The country has received 39.5 mm of rain between June 1 and 17, which was 45 per cent less than the 72.5 mm average.

Asked whether the below normal monsoon forecast would force the government to postpone the food security bill, he said implications will have to be decided by the concerned ministries.

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