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Rainfall dips but crops unaffected

New Delhi, July 16: India’s cumulative monsoon rainfall this season is 14 per cent below normal, the India Meteorological Department said today after a week of poor rain in all four regions of the country.

Rainfall has been scanty — 20 per cent below the expected normal levels or even lower — so far across a swathe of land extending from Orissa and Gangetic Bengal to east Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.

India’s northwestern region — covering the key grain-producing states of Punjab and Haryana — received rainfall which was 43 per cent below normal from July 8 to 14, the IMD said in its weekly forecast issued today. But bountiful rains in the previous week have held the cumulative rainfall in both states above normal — 12 per cent in Punjab and 7 per cent in Haryana.

Agrometeorologists are concerned about Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and parts of Madhya Pradesh where the rainfall this monsoon season has ranged from 56 per cent below normal to 24 per cent below normal.

The July and August rainfall is crucial for agriculture. The agriculture ministry said today that farmers have sown paddy across 124.78 lakh hectares so far this year compared with 122.40 lakh hectares at the same time last year.

The area under coarse cereals has also grown by 12 lakh hectares over last year to touch 107.23 hectares. The area under pulses this year is about 6.83 lakh hectares higher than last year.

The IMD said the subdued activity over the past week was because the axis of the monsoon trough — an atmospheric feature associated with the monsoon season — had shifted north of its normal position and the absence of any “pro-rainfall” systems in the Bay of Bengal.

Numerical weather prediction models do not suggest the formation of any monsoon depression over the next five to seven days, the IMD said. A western disturbance — a storm-like feature moving in from the central Asian region — is likely to bring rain to northwest India from July 19 onwards.

The IMD had predicted in its long-range forecast issued earlier this year that India would receive normal rainfall — 102 per cent — and the 2010 monsoon would become wetter each month.

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