Monsoon may be below normal, say IMD and government

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has downgraded the June-September rainfall forecast to 93 per cent from a near-normal 96 per cent projected earlier, raising fears that the year may see 'below normal monsoon'.

The IMD seems to be a bit cautious after the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) projected a 'poor monsoon' in India due to a probable 'El Nino' impact. Although the IMD discounted such a possibility, it is now noncommittal over its earlier projection of a "normal monsoon" for the June-September 2009 season.

The government also is taking no chances and is considering contingency plans for the country as a whole. Union minister of sate for science and technology Prithviraj Chavan said the country is now expected to receive 93 per cent of the long period average (LPA) rains this season.

"The southwest monsoon rainfall is likely to be below normal between June to September," he said, adding, there could be an error of "four per cent" in the IMD predictions.

The government is reported to have directed the states to come up with contingency plans to tackle monsoon deficiency and the cabinet secretary will soon convene a meeting of state agriculture ministers to draft an action plan to counter any monsoon failure.

The IMD had twice reviewed its forecast of rainfall - first at a near-normal 96 per cent (with a five per cent error) and now at around a non-committal 93 per cent.

IMD, however, insisted that there was no monsoon delay in north India. If the rainfall is delayed till July, it will cover for the June deficit," IMD director DP Yadav said.