Monsoon stalls, stokes drought fears

India is fast staring at drought-like conditions as the country has received 45 per cent less rainfall compared to the average during the first spell of the monsoon.

By Deepak Nagpal | Last Updated: Jun 26, 2014, 12:06 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/ Deepak Nagpal

New Delhi: India is fast staring at drought-like conditions as the country has received 45 percent less rainfall compared to the average during the first spell of the monsoon.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday that only 43.4 mm of rainfall was recorded between June 1 and 17, as against the normal rain of 78.8 mm.

“Out of 36 meteorological subdivisions, the rainfall has been excess over 01, normal over 07 and deficient over 18 and scanty over 10," the department said.
The rainfall recorded in June is among the lowest in over 100 years. However, the IMD is bullish and said that the conditions are likely to improve over the next two months.

But the government is already concerned about the consequences of a week monsoon, which has come to a standstill over the past 10 days. The prospect of fighting food inflation in its very first year is giving headache to the Narendra Modi regime.

Fields have been left parched, threatening oilseeds, pulses and paddy crop, while prices of vegetables are already on the rise. And all this is happening even before the setting in of the El Nino, a weather phenomenon that affects the Southwest Monsoon.
As a measure to fight food inflation, the government has already curbed export of onions, released more rice from government warehouses and spoken to state governments regarding crack down on hoarding.

Water level in the country`s biggest reservoirs is also adding to the woes. While the water level is currently close to last year`s level, it has sharply come down from the one recorded at the start of June.

On June 1, the water level in the reservoirs was about 33 percent more as compared to last year.

Experts say if the monsoon doesn`t revive or progress as expected, it could lead to scarcity of water in several regions.

A leading English daily quoted an official of the National Weather Forecasting Centre as saying that the monsoon is unlikely to progress till the end of this week and that the country will largely remain dry.

In April, the IMD had predicted a below normal monsoon at 95 percent. The less rainfall is being attributed to El Nino condition, whose chances of occurrence are as high as 70 percent.