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Monsoon loses half its steam on start.

AFTER the delayed onset, the south- west monsoon has performed below average in the first two weeks of the four- month season.

The deficit, which was 36 per cent in the first week, rose to 50 per cent in the week ending June 13. Overall, the rainfall deficit so far has been 42 per cent.

Rainfall since the onset of the monsoon has been 29.2 mm as against the normal of 50.6 mm. Of the 36 met sub- divisions, only five have recorded normal rainfall compared to 10 during the same period in the last season. In 30 sub- divisions, rainfall has either been scanty or deficient, according to the weather office.

However, weather officials maintain that the situation could improve next week. The conditions are favourable for advance of the monsoon over Konkan, interior Maharahstra, parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu over the next three to four days. In the next three days, it could advance into West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.

" We expect increased rainfall activities over western parts and interior south India during the next three to four days," said M. Mahapatra, senior scientist, India Meteorological Department ( IMD). " There is a cyclonic pressure over the Arabian Sea which is expected to bring rains on the west coast and interior Karnataka and Maharashtra," Mahapatra added.

A low- pressure area may develop over the north- west Bay of Bengal leading to high rainfall over east and central India.

Since only 40 per cent of cultivable area in the country is under irrigation, rains are important for agriculture. But officials said it will be too early to predict the impact on Kharif output.

Farms are being readied for sowing of paddy, cotton, pulses and oilseeds. If the rain shortfall continues in July and August as well, the situation will turn worse.

The performance of monsoon depends much on how global meteorological parameters such as El Nino Southern Oscillation ( ENSO) unfold in the weeks to come. IMD had predicted a normal monsoon but hinted at below- average performance if ENSO develops in the second half of the season.

Revised outlook for the season will be announced in the third week of June.

" There is no reason to press any panic button at this stage as rainfall is expected to improve," said A. K. Singh, deputy director general, Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Levels of main water reservoirs are also down to 18 per cent of normal capacity, which is down six per centage points during the same period last year. Reservoirs are important for generation of hydropower, which accounts for a quarter of the country's electricity generation capacity.

Moreover, water is also used for irrigating winter crops such as wheat in many states.

The government is also pinning hopes on monsoon to control the inflation. " I am confident that the range of inflation will be about 7.5 per cent throughout the year.

I hope if monsoon is quite good, these type of pressures will be sorted out," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday.

( With Reuters inputs)

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 15, 2012
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