The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted "above normal" monsoon across the country this year, easing fears of the agriculture sector continuing to be drag on overall economic growth after two consecutive years of drought.
''The experimental forecast based on the Monsoon Mission coupled dynamical model suggests that the monsoon rainfall during the 2016 monsoon season (June to September) averaged over the country as a whole is likely to be 111 per cent ±5 per cent of long period model average (LPMA),'' IMD stated in a release issued today.
Quantitatively, IMD said, the monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 106 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA) with a model error of ± 5 per cent. The LPA of the seasonal rainfall over the country as a whole for the period 1951-2000 is 89 cm.
"Monsoon rains will be above long-period average this year and the El Nino conditions will be seen diminishing by June and July," IMD said, adding that it will come out with the second stage of prediction in June.
There is 94 per cent probability that monsoon will be normal to excess this year. By and large, there will be fair distribution of monsoon across the country. But North-East India and South-East India, particularly Tamil Nadu, may get slightly less than normal rainfall."
The forecast comes after two straight years of drought which has been weighed down by subdued agriculture output and falling farmers' income. Ten states have declared drought and the centre has sanctioned relief package of about Rs10,000 crore to help farmers following poor monsoon in 2015-16 crop year (July-June).
Two back-to-back monsoon failures, 2015 being the hottest year on record, poor post-monsoon rain, an alarming depletion of reservoirs and a heat wave that's forecast to continue and even intensify - all this has changed the country's water economics drastically for farmers, households, businesses and hydropower.
IMD will issue the update forecasts in June 2016 as a part of the second stage forecast. Along with the update forecast, separate forecasts for the monthly (July and August) rainfall over the country as a whole and seasonal (June-September) rainfall over the four geographical regions of India will also be issued.
(Also see: India banks on La Nina for normal monsoon and Agro-related stocks rally on hopes of bountiful monsoon )