The holy city received 276-mm rainfall in the last five days, which could be a record of sorts for a short span.
Naresh Johar, 67, has spent a lifetime in the city and "never seen such a heavy downpour for five days". "I think it's a record. None of the older people asked could recall the last time the weather was as wet as this. Even officials of the local agriculture department agreed this must be the heaviest-ever rainfall in five days.
The city received 287-mm rainfall in the 19 days, so far, of August, and of this 276 mm poured since August 15 alone. In 2012, the downpour here was 65 mm in August, and in 2011, it was 176 mm.
The concentration of the southwest monsoon seems to be troubling the holy city, as it received more rain than even rural areas. The flood-hit Ajnala block received only 117-mm rain in the last five days, while Baba Bakala recorded 73 mm, and Jandiala, which is near Amritsar, got 176 mm.
Chief agriculture officer (CAO) Dilbagh Singh Dhanju estimates rainfall in Attari and Chogawan blocks to have exceeded 200 mm each. It was around noon on August 15 that it started raining and until the early hours of August 19, it had not stopped. Initial showers were a relief from heat and humidity but then it started raining misery.
As the downpour continued over the next day and the next, people looked heavenwards in prayer, wondering when it will end. Their prayers were answered on Monday morning when the sun came out from behind the clouds. Housewives hurried to hang wet clothes, and men drove to the shops to assess seepage.
Water table gains, electricity saved
The rain may have brought untold miseries on farmers, particularly vegetable growers, but it will have a positive impact on the groundwater table.
If reports reaching the agriculture department officer suggest the impact is visible already. Groundwater has surfaced in some wells that had gone dry. "In the tube-wells we operate in the rural areas, the water pressure and volume have jumped, a clear sign that rainwater has percolated to the ground and recharged the water table," said Dhanju, pointing out that the downpour over the past five days was "slow and steady". Faster, and the rainwater would have just run waste.
The rain also saved a lot of electricity, as farmers did not operate tube-wells and won't have to for another few days. The downpour had no impact on Basmati and paddy crop, though vegetables, fruits, maize, and green fodder were damaged to a certain extent.