New Delhi: The eyes are still gazing towards the sky for some raindrops but the monsoon seems to have forgotten its way to the dried up fields. The farmers constituting 70 percent of the Indian population now fear their crops may dry up under the scorching sun due to lack of water.

While the rain Gods aren’t smiling on northern India, severe floods in Assam have thrown life out of gear in this eastern state. 

Contrary to the thirsty north, Assam and Meghalaya are facing loss of life and property due to floods. Observing the seriousness of the situation, PM Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi made an aerial survey of the flood affected regions.  As per the government report,  2,166 villages across 113 revenue circles in the state are hit and 19.37 lakh people affected by the floods.

Rs 500 crore package has been declared for Assam  battling the worst floods in recent times that has left 77 people dead and nearly five lakh homeless. On the other hand, about 74 percent land of the country has received deficient or scanty rain since the onset of monsoon on June 5 but may still get 96 percent of average rainfall this year.

Amidst drought like situation, the meteorological department has forecasted 98 percent rainfall in July and 96 percent in August.

With 31 percent less rainfall in June, tension level is rising along with the soaring temperature. Only a meager 119.3 mm rainfall has been received so far as compared to the normal level of 172 mm.

Adverse Effect on Agriculture

Sowing of Kharif crop such as paddy, pulses and oilseeds, which normally begins from April, has not gained momentum yet due to late arrival of South-West monsoon, crucial for agriculture as only 40 percent of the cultivable area is under irrigation.
  
Meteorological Department Predictions

Now, all hopes are pinned on the current weak monsoon considered crucial by the Meteorological Department. However, the weather officials are of the views that better than late monsoon will not disappoint the farmers on its arrival.

According to them, the conditions are constantly changing in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal and are expected to push the monsoon towards northern India.

The monsoon has not moved ahead of Madhya Pradesh but is expected to pick up pace in the latter half of next week.

Although monsoon did knock the doors of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra but not much rain was received. Moreover, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana are still waiting for the monsoons.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted good rain in July and August. However, it is to be noted that the department in April had predicted 99 percent of the average rainfall this season.

Observing the rising troubles of the poor farmers and agricultural labourers due to kharif crop bearing the brunt of delayed monsoon, the Central government has assured the states of increasing their MNREGA funds.

Due to south-west monsoon losing its way to northern India, the kharif crop has affected in the region. A steep decline has been recorded in the production of paddy, coarse grains and pulses.

On the cue from the meteorological department, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has already warned the states regarding the possible drought and has assured them of help by increasing the budgetary allocation under MNREGA.

In a letter written to the chief ministers, Ramesh has also attached a detailed weather report outlining records of several drought affected areas in the states.

Regions awaiting rainfall

This monsoon season had a delayed onset over Kerala which got first seasonal showers on June 5 and made sputtering progress towards the north before being stopped in the tracks by atmospheric storm 'Talim' last week.
   
The Meteorological Department data showed four percent area of the country getting excess rains, and 22 percent area receiving normal rains. It showed 39 percent of the country - parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka - getting deficient rains and another 35 percent receiving scanty rains. Almost the entire northwest region, Gujarat and Kutch, Rayalseema and Tamil Nadu have got scanty rains.

The Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh has received 60 percent less rainfall while there has been 20 percent fall in rainfall in the coastal areas. Tamil Nadu has witnessed decline in rainfall by 58 percent, Punjab 72 percent, Haryana 84 percent, Uttar Pradesh 84 percent and Uttarakhand the highest of 88 percent.

The eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and north-east states are expected to receive 99 percent of the average rainfall while the southern areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Lakshdweep and Andaman & Nicobar islands may receive 95 percent rainfall this season.
    
The Al-Nino fear

The Al-Nino effect is expected to head towards India and may make its presence felt in August-September. The rise in surface temperature over the Pacific Ocean is called the Al Nino effect which leads to weakening of the monsoon.

However, the meteorological department has claimed that the Al Nino effect may not necessarily lead to scanty rainfall.

Ruchi Kaushal/JPN