Cyclone Laila on India's east coast would be a temporary hurdle for the country's vital monsoon rains, expected to arrive on May 30, top weather forecasters said on Thursday.
"So long the cyclone remains, monsoon won't come. We expect the cyclone to weaken in next 24 hours. Then we have to see how it moves," D Sivananda Pai, a director at the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), told Reuters.
Another senior weather official said monsoon rains, which irrigate 60 percent of the country's farms, were on track despite the cyclone in the Bay of Bengal.
"We are monitoring constantly and so far it appears that there will not be any impact on monsoon. There will be time for a fresh monsoon surge to develop," BP Yadav, the spokesman of the IMD said in New Delhi.
Some officials had blamed the May 2009 Aila cyclone for last year's worst rain season in 37 years which hit farm output and shaved off economic growth.
Despite the brewing cyclone, monsoon rains are expected to hit the mainland through the southern tip of the country on May 30, the chief of the IMD told reporters.
"We are sticking to our previous forecast of May 30," Ajit Tygai said.
The raging cyclone Laila, which forced the government to evacuate about 50,000 people and impacted operations in a southern oilfield, was expected to touch the Andhra Pradesh coast on Thursday.
"After the expected landfall this afternoon, the cyclone is likely to weaken but there is a possibility of it re-emerging again in the Bay of Bengal on May 22-23. The weakening Laila will not turn into a super cyclone," Tygai said.
Weather officials say the fading cyclone would pave way for the monsoon, a key influence on fortunes of the trillion-dollar economy.
Last year's scanty rains lowered farm output, pushing up food inflation which is at 16.49 percent.
Spiralling food prices have led to street protests, putting pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government to bolster supplies of essential food commodities.
The government has initiated measures, including zero import tax on sugar and lentils, to calm prices.