Meteorological office predicts normal monsoon after last year's drought

The government said today that the summer monsoon in the country would be normal this year as it sought to allay fears over an event of crucial economic importance to citizens.

Rainfall would likely be 98 per cent of the long-term average according to the weather office which has its forecast keenly followed by commodities and financial markets as also the government. The government has been trying to control inflation against a backdrop of intense protests over soaring food prices.

"Rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be normal," BP Yadav, spokesman for the India Meteorological Office, said. He added that the forecast model had an error margin of 5 per cent.

He added that the El Nino phenomenon that leads to disruption of normal weather conditions was weakening.

The monsoon winds bring around 75 to 90 per cent of the precipitation to most parts of India and are vital for cane, rise and oilseeds crops with 60 per cent of the cultivated areas being dependent entirely on the rains for irrigation.

Last year, the normal rainfall monsoon forecast had proved wrong and the country had to grapple with a severe draught caused by the driest monsoon experienced in 37 years.