New Delhi: Monsoon in the country this year is expected to be 'deficient', the Met department has projected while revising its forecast from 'below normal' which is likely to trigger fears of a drought.
The Met Department revised its forecast from 93 per cent to 88 per cent Long Period Average (LPA), with north-west region of the country expected to be hit the most, Union Minister for Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan told reporters in New Delhi on Tuesday.
"I have to say this with a heavy heart that as per our revised forecast, India will receive 88 per cent of rainfall of the LPA," said Vardhan, who also holds the portfolio of Science and Technology. In April, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had forecast that monsoon rains would be 93 percent of the average, which is categorised as "below normal". Now, with the revised projection of 88 per cent, the monsoon is categorised as 'deficien'".
"We have been working to ensure that the forecast is right. But this time let's pray to God that the revised forecast does not come true," said the minister. He said that in the last Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already asked different ministries and departments to gear up for such an exigency.
The North-West region which includes Delhi NCR, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan will be affected as per the forecast with it receiving around 85 per cent of rainfall of the LPA. The region had experienced less rainfall last year.
The projection of low rainfall, which may be attributed to the El-Nino phenomena, is likely to trigger fears about drought situation in some parts of the country.
With monsoon already delayed, the news could be disheartening for the farming community which depends heavily on the seasonal rains. The timely onset of the South-West monsoon is crucial for sowing of kharif (summer) crops such as paddy and a deficit in rainfall may hit the rice output.
Agriculture, which employs about 60 per cent of the country's population, is heavily dependent on the monsoon as only 40 per cent of the cultivable area is under irrigation. Last year, the country had received 12 per cent less rains, which hit production of grains, cotton and oilseeds.
Due to poor monsoon, agriculture growth stood at 0.2 per cent in the 2014-15 fiscal. According to the government's estimate, total food grains production has declined to 251.12 million tonnes in the 2014-15 crop year (July-June) from a record production of 265.04 million tonnes in the last year.