Above normal monsoon in 2016: IMD’s good news ends drought of hope in India

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Easing fears over farm and economic growth after two consecutive years of drought, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday predicted “above normal” monsoon this year.

“Monsoon rains will be above long-period average this year and the El Nino conditions will be seen diminishing by June and July,” IMD said, adding that it will come out with the second stage of prediction in June.

Releasing its monsoon forecast for the season, IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said, “Monsoon will be 106 percent of the long period average (LPA). There is 94 percent probability that monsoon will be normal to excess this year. By and large, there will be fair distribution of monsoon across the country. But North-East India and South-East India, particularly Tamil Nadu, may get slightly less than normal rainfall.”
Representational image. Reuters

Drought-hit Marathwada is also likely to receive “good” rainfall, Rathore added.

Anything less than 90 percent of the LPA is termed as a “deficient” monsoon and 90-96 percent of the LPA is considered as “below normal”. Monsoon is considered as “normal” if the LPA is between 96-104 percent of the LPA.

“Above normal” monsoon is between 104-110 per cent of the LPA and anything beyond 110 per cent of the LPA is considered as “excess”.

Agriculture, which contributes 15 per cent to India’s GDP and 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.

Due to poor monsoon in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), 10 states have declared drought and the Centre has sanctioned relief package of about Rs 10,000 crore to help farmers.

The forecast, which comes after two straight years of drought – is likely to boost the farm sector, which has been weighed down by subdued agriculture output and falling farmers’ income.

Two back-to-back monsoon failures, 2015 being the hottest year on record, poor post-monsoon rain, an alarming depletion of reservoirs and a heat wave that’s forecast to continue and even intensify — all this has changed the country’s water economics drastically for farmers, households, businesses and hydropower.