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Centre debates contingency if monsoon fails

Worried over the slow progress of the monsoon, KV Thomas held a meeting on Thursday on the likelihood of less rains and subsequent drought-like situation this year.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jun 22, 2012, 02.57 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Worried over the slow progress of the monsoon, food minister KV Thomas held a meeting on Thursday on the likelihood of less rains and subsequent drought-like situation this year. The meeting, attended by food secretary Sudhir Kumar, agriculture secretary Ashish Bahuguna and IMD chief LS Rathore, reviewed the progress of the monsoon and discussed the contingency plan.

Rathore said rains were slightly delayed but not too late to raise an alarm. "The behaviour of the monsoon differs every year. It is slightly behind the schedule but such delays are normal. There is no cause of concern for farm activities," he said.

Meanwhile, after a brief pause for two days, monsoon advanced gently and covered parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh and eastern Madhya Pradesh. "In the next two days, there will be heavy rainfall in the north-eastern and eastern parts of the country. We expect fast advancement in the next 48 hours," said Dr M Mohapatra, spokesman and scientist at IMD.

IMD is likely to come out with an updated forecast on Friday, giving a detailed account of monsoon-influencing phenomena like El Nino and IOD. It will also provide a region-wise breakup of rainfall besides predicting the behaviour of the monsoon in July and August which are crucial for farm output.

The rain deficit in the first 20 days since the delayed start of the monsoon stands at 26%. The deficit has narrowed down from 50% till the second week of the month after a brief spurt of good rains over the southern peninsula and parts of Maharashtra.

The deficit is highest in northwest India comprising fertile fields of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. In Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, the rainfall is short by around 25% giving jitters to the government as well as agro and fertiliser companies.

"The way the monsoon is behaving, we are suspecting a major demand destruction. Our main markets like Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are yet to get their first shower. It will affect agriculture output and fertiliser offtake in a big way. Fertiliser consumption may break down by 50% this year," said US Awasthi, managing director, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative, the country's largest fertiliser marketing company.

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