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Monsoon situation turns from bad to worse

Harish Damodaran

New Delhi , July 30

THE monsoon situation seems to be drifting from bad to worse. For all the talk of a `revival' having taken place over the past few days, the latest information from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reveals that the country as a whole has recorded almost 40 per cent deficient rains during the week ended July 28.

The accompanying table shows the way the southwest monsoon has behaved during the current season, which technically extends from June 1 to September 30.

During June 1 to June 23, the `actual' area-weighted rainfall received by the country exceeded the corresponding `normal' or historical long period average (LPA) for this period by 21.16 per cent. The subsequent weeks have, however, been a disaster.

The week ended June 30 witnessed 60.37 per cent deficient rains. The extent of deficiency fell to 33.91 per cent and 14.07 per cent for the weeks ended July 7 and July 14, respectively, suggesting that things were steadily moving towards normal.

But during the last two weeks ended July 21 and July 28, the deficiency levels have surged to 28.28 per cent and 39.88 per cent, reversing the earlier mild revival trend.

The overall picture that emerges, therefore, is the following: During June 1 to June 23, the monsoon was `excess' to the tune of 21.16 per cent; in the subsequent period from June 24 to July 28, it has been deficient by 27.20 per cent.

Cumulatively, from June 1 to July 28, the actual rainfall has been 14.94 per cent below normal. The current month alone (till July 28) has registered a deficiency of nearly 23 per cent. Although this may not be as bad as the 49 per cent shortfall observed in July 2002 - the worst ever in recorded history - it is enough to be called a disaster for the farming community and the commodity markets.

The IMD data shows that cumulative rainfall during the current season till July 28 has been deficient or scanty in as many as 17 out of the country's 36 meteorological sub-divisions and 55 per cent of all districts.

This covers virtually the whole of North-West India, Central India and the East coast, stretching from Himachal Pradesh (minus 53 per cent), Punjab (minus 50 per cent), Haryana and Delhi (minus 59 per cent), West Uttar Pradesh (minus 52 per cent), East Rajasthan (minus 58 per cent) and West Rajasthan (minus 63 per cent) to the Gujarat region (minus 41 per cent), Saurashtra and Kutch (minus 44 per cent), West Madhya Pradesh (minus 40 per cent), East MP (minus 26 per cent), Konkan and Goa (minus 20 per cent), coastal Karnataka (minus 29 per cent) and Kerala (minus 27 per cent).

The position has been somewhat better in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, though even here there are deficient pockets, such as Vidarbha (minus 34 per cent) and Telangana (minus 27 per cent). The monsoon has also behaved well in most of Eastern India (East UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh) and the entire North-East, with Jharkhand (minus 33 per cent) being the exception. Of course, some of these areas are facing a diametrically opposite problem of excess rains, leading to floods.

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