Monsoon deficit to widen to 12%, impact kharif crop, says IMD

New Delhi: India’s summer rainfall deficit has widened to 10% and is projected to rise to 12% by the end of monsoon season next month, raising fears of a fall in kharif output in parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and eastern UP.

The rise in monsoon rains deficit was projected by the MeT office on Monday notwithstanding the possibility of heavy rainfall in the foothills of Himalayas over the next four days tht has prompted sounding of a flood alert in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal.

“The rainfall shortage is about 10% as of now. The deficit is expected to widen further to 12% by the end of the season,” Laxman Singh Rathore, Director-General of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The MeT department has projected 16% deficiency in the remaining two months of the four-month season, that is, in August and September.

There is a forecast for a huge rainfall deficiency in some pockets of the country. Even though Bihar and eastern UP would receive heavy rains in the next four days, the dry spell is expected to continue after that, Rathore said.

As per IMD data, there is 48% rainfall deficiency in Marathwada in Maharasthra, 45% in north interior parts of Karnataka, 36% shortage each in eastern UP and in Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh, 33% in central Maharasthra and 23% in Telangana.

Rathore said a Monsoon trough will bring “heavy” to “very heavy rainfall” in the foothills of Himalayas.

“The rainfall will also lead to swelling of rivers Kosi, Gandak and Ghaghara, tributaries of Ganga and all tributaries of Brahmaputra.

“This will possibly lead to flooding of plains in East Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and sub-Himalayan parts of West Bengal,” Rathore said, after a high-level meeting convened by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The government had last week announced a relief package of Rs 300 crore to provide diesel and seed subsidy, among others, to farmers with a view to saving standing kharif crops in the eventuality of drought and deficit rainfall.

Such measures are for helping the farmers in rainfall- deficit areas of Marathwada, Rayalseema, north-interior Karnataka and Bihar and eastern UP.

Sowing for kharif crops like pulses and oilseeds has remained robust on the back of improved rains in June and some good spells in July. However, the monsoon’s performance in August-September would be crucial for this year’s kharif output.

As per the official data, kharif crops have been sown in 890.82 lakh hectares till August 14 of the season, as against 863.61 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.