Environment

Early Monsoon Underwhelms, Rainfall Deficit at 37%, Sowing Down 14%

The rainfall deficiency is coming at a time when 46% of the country is already suffering from drought. Large parts of the country have seen a prolonged heatwave. 

New Delhi: The south west monsoon of 2019 has underwhelmed in its early days with a national level rainfall deficit of 37% as on June 24, according to data provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

The monsoon has been delayed this season by a week. It usually makes landfall in Kerala around June 1. This year, it made its first appearance on June 8.

Cyclone Vayu in the Arabian sea also slowed the progress of the monsoon by draining its moisture.

The sluggish progress of the monsoon has meant that 30 of the 36 subdivisions in the country are categorised as ‘deficient’ or ‘large deficient’ by the IMD. These sub-divisions account for 82% of the country’s land area.

Some of the sub-divisions with large rain deficits are western Uttar Pradesh at 76%, Vidarbha at 72%, Jharkhand at 55%, Konkan and Goa at 54%, Uttarakhand at 53%, Madhya Maharashtra at 52%. Andaman and Nicobar Island, on the other hand, has seen a large excess of 69%, the only sub division with a large excess.

The rainfall deficiency is coming at a time when 46% of the country is already suffering from drought. Large parts of the country have seen a prolonged heatwave. India recorded the lowest pre-monsoon rain in 65 years, and the previous monsoon recorded a deficit of 9% with a sizeable chunk faring much worse. 

Consequently, water storage in reservoirs is now at a significantly depleted level. Of the 91 reservoirs for which the Central Water Commission releases data, 11 have run dry as on June 20. Another 24 are at storage levels below 50% of normal, while 23 reservoirs recorded storage levels between 51% and 80%. Only 32 reservoirs reported more than 80% of normal storage, and not a single reservoir reported 100% of normal storage.

Also read: Another Delayed Monsoon Doesn’t Bode Well for Bihar

The situation is the most grim in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, whose reservoirs recorded a storage level departure from normal of 83% and 71% respectively.

The storage level in river basins is at a deficit of 6% as on June 20 with Tapi at 81% recording the largest deficit, followed by Krishna and Cauvery at 55% and 45% respectively.

Given the deficit rain and lower storage levels, kharif sowing has also shown a deficit of 15% from normal as on June 21, reported the Hindu. The actual sown area in the country is 90 lakh hectares, as compared to 105 lakh hectares which is normal for this time of the year. The sowing for oil seeds is down 6%, while coarse cereals are lower by 4%.

The IMD is expecting the monsoon to pick up speed in the coming days with ‘conditions becoming favourable for further advance’.