Monsoon makes up for shortfall, but brings deluge of problems | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Monsoon makes up for shortfall, but brings deluge of problems

ByJayashree Nandi,
Jul 10, 2024 06:08 AM IST

Similar to trends in the past few years, extreme rainfall in July is wreaking havoc over certain parts of the country, but some others, particularly the rice-growing region in eastern India, continue to record deficient rain.

Similar to trends in the past few years, extreme rainfall in July is wreaking havoc over certain parts of the country, but some others, particularly the rice-growing region in eastern India, continue to record deficient rain.

A flooded market in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. (ANI)
A flooded market in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. (ANI)

The southwest monsoon intensified this month, following a weak start in June, leading to unprecedented rainfall over the western Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and the Konkan region.

Baheri in Bareilly recorded 460 mm of rainfall on Sunday; Banbasa in Uttarakhand’s Champawat recorded 430 mm, Chorgalia in Nainital recorded 310 mm; Panjim in Goa logged 360 mm; Tala in Raigad 290 mm; and Mumbai’s Santacruz recorded 270 mm in 24 hours between Sunday and Monday morning.

Some of this is unusual. The India Meteorological Department categorises over 200 mm rain to be “extremely heavy” and most of the rain at these stations was not only beyond the weather bureau’s “extremely heavy” category, but was recorded in the span of a few hours. On the other extreme, eastern regions like Gangetic West Bengal continued to record 52% deficiency since June 1; Jharkhand 49%; Chhattisgarh 25% and Odisha 27%. Kerala also has a 26% deficiency.

“Some stations have recorded exceptional amounts of rain. There was an intense wet spell over Uttarakhand, west Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh from July 5 to 8. Then there was another active spell over Goa and Maharashtra, which started on June 5 and is still continuing,” said RK Jenamani, senior scientist at the weather office.

“There is a shear line over the northern peninsula and an active circulation over central Bay of Bengal. The monsoon trough is active and considerably south of its normal position now. There is another active circulation over Gujarat,” the meteorologist said. “All this together is causing the current spell over the west coast.”

“Over Uttarakhand and west Uttar Pradesh, extreme rainfall was mainly due to convergence of winds from the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal,” Jenamani added. “We expect active monsoon conditions to continue, and very heavy spells are likely over northeast India now.”

Heavy to very heavy rainfall with isolated extremely heavy falls is likely over northeast and adjoining eastern India in next 2-3 days, the Met department warned. Isolated extremely heavy rainfall (over 200 mm) is very likely over sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim till July 11; and Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya on July 10.

Extremely heavy rain and active monsoon conditions are expected to continue through July as per weather models. A pickup in the rains in July so far has expanded the sowing of summer crops, whose area planted stood at 37.8 million hectares on July 9, up 14% compared to the corresponding date a year ago, data from the agriculture ministry show. Acreage figures showed rapid expansion of key crops like rice, pulses, sugarcane and oilseeds.

The area under pulses, whose prices have been elevated due to short supply, has jumped by over 50% at 3.6 million hectares, compared to 2.3 million hectares during the same period a year ago. Pulses are mostly grown in rain-dependent farm belts. Farmers have planted rice, the summer staple, in 5.9 million hectares, against 5 million hectares during the corresponding period a year ago.

Severe rainfall, as is being seen in many parts of the country, can hurt newly sown crops, experts said. “The best way to tackle this, especially in pulses, soy and corn, is to ensure adequate drainage of extra water,” said Vijay Rawat, former scientist with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute.

“There is a growing trend in monsoon rainfall characteristics. It rains in fewer hours, but when it rains, it will be heavy rains. This is mainly attributed to increasing temperatures and associated changes in cloud characteristics. The so-called cloud efficiency has increased,” said M Rajeevan, former secretary at the ministry of earth sciences. “We should expect more rain. Models are showing monsoon is still picking up strength. It will be active till the end of this month.”

Although models did not indicate the quantum of rain received in some parts of Maharashtra, the weather department had assessed the situation based on synoptic features and issued nowcast warnings hours in advance, Jenamani said.

As on July 9, there is 1% excess rain over the country with 3% deficiency over east and northeast India; 5% deficiency over central India; 9% excess over northwest India and 12% excess over Peninsular India.

In its agromet advisories, the weather office has recommended that the northeastern States, sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim, Bihar, east Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana should make provision for draining out excess water from farms to avoid water stagnation, postpone transplanting of rice and finger millet in Konkan and Goa and provide mechanical support to horticultural crops and staking to vegetables.

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