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Monsoon seen hitting Karnataka this week

business Updated: Jun 02, 2010 21:41 IST

The monsoon will start advancing toward the southern Karnataka state by June 5, but the small delay caused by a cyclone is unlikely to threaten the sowing of crops, a top farm ministry official said on Wednesday.

Good rainfall after last year's drought would boost the country's output of grain and oilseeds, calm inflation that has triggered widespread protests and give room to the government to relax curbs on export of wheat and rice.

Weather officials had said on Tuesday that the advance of the June-September monsoon rains, which had arrived a day ahead of schedule on May 31, was temporarily halted.

"The cyclone has halted the monsoon's progress in south India," farm secretary PK Basu told reporters, referring to cyclone Phet over the Arabian sea.

"But there is no cause for concern as of now."

Last month, another cyclone, Laila, over the Bay of Bengal had slowed the monsoon's onset over the southern tip of India for a week.

"Two back-to-back cyclones have weakened the beginning (of the monsoon)," D Sivananda Pai, director of National Climate Center at Pune, told Reuters by phone.

However, farm secretary Basu said India's weather office was confident of normal rains this year due to a weak El Nino weather pattern.

El Nino is caused by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean and can play havoc with weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region.

Last month, Australia's weather bureau said the El Nino weather pattern was over.

The farm secretary added that cyclone Phet would bring good rains to the west coast.

"Gujarat and Rajasthan (are likely) to get good rains due to the cyclone," he said.

North-eastern states had also received heavy showers in the last couple of days.

Weather officials said they expected the cyclone to fizzle out in the next 48 hours.