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Monsoon revives, rain forecast for drought-hit states

New Delhi: 18 Sep,   India’s monsoon season, now in its withdrawal phase, has revived over key drought-hit states that account for more than a third of India’s food output.

The rains are expected to offer some respite for millions of farmers battling tough conditions and a government staring at a rural crisis.

The late surge, not unusual, has narrowed the current rainfall deficiency from 16% to 15% for the June-September season.

Overnight, Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region and the states of Chhattisgarh and Telangana received robust showers, while moderately wet weather covered Odisha, central Maharashtra, Goa and Kerala.

The recovery was led by fresh depressions, or windy, torrential systems that are drifting in from both the Arabian Sea off Goa and the Bay of Bengal through the Odisha coast.

The systems are headed on a convergent path. After fusing over central India, they are expected to sweep up north. This has turned the forecast favourable – heavy rains lasting at least till Monday are predicted across the states.

As the system moves north, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Punjab too will get rains around Monday.

India’s output of rice – the main summer crop – is expected to be marginally lower than last year at 90.6 million tonnes in 2015-16 due to drought, the first of four quarterly projections from the government showed on Wednesday.

Overall, food grain production is expected to drop 1.8% from a year ago to 124.05 million tonnes because of a sharply lower output of crops such as corn. The estimates are likely to be revised again.

Overall, as the monsoon season draws to a close, nearly half the country has received below-normal rains, leaving many states grappling with pockets of battered farms.

A preliminary analysis showed crops such as onions, tur (a type of widely consumed pulse), coarse cereals and cottonwill take a hit, an official told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.

More worrying has been the deepening rural crisis. Tractor sales were down 23% in August.

Rural wages – a key measure of farm-based earnings – rose at a slower pace of 4.6% during the 12-month period ending in June, compared to a 12% rise in the corresponding period a year ago, according to a research report by Barclays.

Water levels in 89 national important reservoirs are at half their capacity, which is lower than the 10-year average.

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