Met department delayed fresh monsoon forecast for a fortnight. El Nino is active
Drought chased monsoon this year. From the first week of June, as monsoon spread across the country, the spectre of drought loomed large. And the government finally accepted it is a drought on August 3, about a fortnight before the end of the sowing season—August 15. A couple of days earlier, the empowered group of ministers on agriculture hinted at a drought worse than the one in 2009 in terms of size of geographical area impacted by deficit monsoon.
“The second half of the monsoon season will be deficient. There may be drought in certain areas,” said Laxman Singh Rathore, director general of India Meteorological Department (IMD), at a press conference on Friday.
Week-wise rainfall deficit
On August 1, the minister of state for agriculture, Harish Rawat, hinted at IMD's change in forecast. “Rains may be normal or even above normal in August. But I am not sure about September,” he told media persons on the sidelines of a conference in Delhi.
The same day, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on drought met for the first time since 2009, the last severe drought India witnessed. After the meeting, Pawar revealed to the media a drought situation worse than the one in 2009—around 64 percent of India's districts (400 of total 627) are experiencing drought-like situation. “The intensity of the drought is similar to that of 2009,” says Ashish Bahuguna, agriculture secretary to government of India. In 2009, drought impacted 246 districts.
With IMD's new forecast, many states are expected to declare many of their districts drought-affected. This will trigger the official procedures to put in place emergency measures. Though states like Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana are experiencing a big deficit in rainfall (see map), they have not officially declared drought. Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Karnataka have declared many districts drought-impacted and the Central government has already started the process of giving emergency relief. Two days ago, the Central government declared a Rs 2,000 crore relief package to drought-affected states.
Rainfall deficit map
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