Pawar unfazed by slow monsoon, but official worried

Even as agriculture minister said in Mumbai on Sunday that the delayed monsoon was ''no reason for concern, India's chief statistician Pronab Sen has said the delay will hit crop output.

The July-September monsoon has not only been tardy, but is forecast to be only 93 per cent of the long-term average this year.

Sen said in New Delhi today that India's economic growth this financial year is likely to be hurt by weak annual monsoon rains.

"Any delay in the monsoon has an effect on agriculture as area crop goes down," Sen, the secretary in the department of statistics and program implementation, told reporters.

Yesterday, Pawar had said, "There is no drought-like situation in the country. The monsoon is delayed by about 12 days. The India Meteorological Department has forecast that the monsoon will be 93 per cent in July and 101 per cent in August. If the prediction is correct, the question of a drought does not arise.''

Pawar added, "The trend is quite encouraging. The major sowing period is between July and August.'' He added that the country's grain production is likely to be the same as last year. He pointed out that the seed sowing programme, which is carried out with the help of state governments, has been delayed by just a week. "This is not a cause for worry,'' Pawar said.