Monsoon hits Kerala, may progress along western coast
New Delhi: South-west monsoon, the lifeline of the country's agri-based economy, on Tuesday reached Kerala but with a weak current which may not bring enough rains to peninsular India.
"Monsoon rains have reached Kerala," Laxman Singh Rathore, Director General, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said here.
He said conditions were favourable for further advance of monsoon into some more parts of the central Arabian Sea, coastal Karnataka, Goa and parts of south Konkan.
IMD officials brushed aside concerns over delay and insisted that the progress of the monsoon was well within the limits of the forecast model.
Monsoon trackers said Mumbai could get its first seasonal rainfall by the weekend but the same could not be said about interior parts of the peninsular region.
D Sivananda Pai, Director National Climate Centre and lead forecaster for monsoon admitted that the monsoonal flows were not strong enough to bring showers to the peninsular region and initially the rains would be confined to the west coast.
"Regions about 100-120 km inwards from the coast would get rains initially," Pai said.
Other weather scientists also concurred with Pai's forecast saying that the monsoonal flow was dull and would bring light rains and not heavy downpour that is typical of monsoon.
"It is not a typical monsoon onset," said a scientist who has been tracking the rains for more than a decade.
However, he pointed out that this was just the beginning of monsoon season and thing may always change.
IMD data showed Thiruvananthapuram in southern Kerala getting very little rains as compared to central and northern parts of the state.
Monsoon watchers attribute the slight delay in the onset of monsoon to Typhoon Mawar which was active in western Pacific Ocean off the Philippines and sucking away moisture and wind currents to power itself.
A study by NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) showed that the atmospheric conditions were becoming increasingly hostile and the typhoon will continue to weaken.
Good rains in June are crucial for agriculture operations in south peninsular region, including Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Maharashtra.
Monsoon rains are crucial for agriculture as only 40 percent of the cultivable area is under irrigation. The farm sector contributes about only 15 percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but it employs about 60 percent of India's population.
On the back of good monsoon in 2010 and 2011, the country harvested a record foodgrains production of 245 million tonnes and 252.56 million tonnes, respectively.