After the driest June in 83 years, the monsoon — which brings rains between June and September — has so far fallen short by more than a quarter of the usual rains.
The meteorology department on Monday said the monsoon would bring only 87 per cent of the usual rains this year.
The monsoon is crucial for sowing summer crops like paddy, as nearly 60 per cent of farms have no access to irrigation.
While many of the 161 districts declared drought-hit by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee are not major crop producers, his statement underscored growing concern that a weak monsoon could reduce the output of crops and dampen the recovery of the broader economy.
India witnessed its worst drought in 1987, when it received 29 per cent less than normal rainfall in July, resulting in a 7 per cent contraction in the kharif crop. Mukherjee said they managed quite well then — “we transported drinking water through Railways, organized fodder” — and would manage this time too. He said GDP growth this year would still be more than 6 per cent.
“The poor monsoon clouds near-term outlook. Our growth expectations remain at 5.8 per cent,” said Tushar Poddar, economist at Goldman Sachs.