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Experts say lumbering monsoon a glitch as most of India remains dry yet

india Updated: Jun 17, 2016 14:24 IST

The onset of monsoon this year was delayed, hitting Kerala on June 8. So far, only southern parts of India have received rains, recording a surplus of 12% while the rest of India suffers a deficient of upto 46%. (Vivek R Nair / HT Photo)

The June-September monsoon has been slow and 25% below average until June 15, delaying sowing, but forecasters say that’s just a temporary glitch.

Instead, a rainfall surge is on the cards in the second half of June, after which rains are expected to quicken its spread across the rest of the country.

Read | What, when, where? The essential monsoon guide

Predictions by the state-run India Meteorological Department said a surplus monsoon was expected this year.

Though it made a delayed start on June 8, the rains steadily progressed over south India. However, in other parts of the country, it is behind schedule.

In the first 15 days of the rainy season, only south India recorded surplus rainfall of 12%, while showers in central, northwest and eastern parts have been deficient, ranging between 14% and 46%.

Read | It’s raining good news: Normal to excess rainfall this monsoon says IMD

This means the rains have yet to sufficiently drench drought-hit areas in central and western states, despite intermittent pre-monsoon showers, causing disappointment. After two years of drought that stoked rural distress, millions of farmers await the showers to start summer sowing.

For Asia’s third-largest economy, the rains are vital for it is an important source of drinking water, power generation and agriculture. That aside, two-thirds of Indians depend on farm-linked income.

Read | Why even a good monsoon may not bring food prices down

A monsoon-boosting, wind-cloud weather pattern known as the Madden–Julian Oscillation, one which sweeps the tropics and dramatically enhances precipitation, is likely to push rains across India.

“The Madden–Julian Oscillation has already arrived, so we expect a third monsoon surge, which will then cover the whole of the country,” BP Yadav, the Meteorological Department’s deputy director-general, told Hindustan Times.

Read | Monsoon hits Kerala, it’s time to get your umbrellas out

After hitting Kerala, the rains branch off into two streams: One takes the Arabian Sea route to soak the southern states, while the Bay of Bengal arm covers the rest of the mainland. The Bay of Bengal branch has been sluggish, affecting the monsoon’s speed.

Till June 11, farmers planted 7.1 million hectares, lower than last year’s 7.7 million hectares. The area under rice lags too: 0.57 million hectares, compared to last year’s 0.64 million hectares around this time.

So far, the monsoon has penetrated only up till Andhra Pradesh in the south and Gangtok in the northeast.