Monsoon worries mount

Karnataka government prepares to overcome power shortage

Monsoon worries mount

 The shortfall in monsoon rains is also likely to impact on Karnataka’s power situation. Power Minister Eshwarappa on Wednesday hinted that the State would have to brace for difficult times on the energy front and asked his department to stock up on coal.

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) scientists said that monsoon rain for the country as the whole was expected to be 93 per cent of the long period average (LPA) of 89 cm with a model error of plus or minus 4 per cent. The LPA is the country’s average monsoon rainfall estimate averaged over 50 years. The new forecast is a 3 per cent lowering of the April forecast issued by the IMD.

The scientists and experts ruled out drought possibility at this point as they have data only for the first three weeks of June, which is insufficient to describe the current weather phenomenon as drought.

On April 17, IMD predicted a seasonal rainfall of 96 per cent of LPA with a model error of plus or minus 5 per cent. The downgrading shifts the possibility of monsoon from “near normal” to “below normal” category, triggering government preparations for contingency plans if the rainfall in July and August did not make up the deficit.

Till June 22, rainfall was 52 per cent deficient for the entire country. The shortage was maximum in central India (75 per cent) and minimum in the southern peninsula (25 per cent) where monsoon arrived in time but did not advance for almost two weeks. In northeast and northwest India, the deficiency was 53 and 41 per cent, respectively.
Worried over a possible crisis situation, the Centre has convened a meeting of state agriculture secretaries on Thursday to discuss the contingency agricultural plans in case rainfall was inadequate.

Releasing the forecast, Union Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan said since the June rainfall constituted only 18 per cent of the total seasonal rainfall, it was too early to press the panic-button. The shortage may be compensated in July or August, he hoped.

Nothing to cheer about

However, IMD’s July forecast is not likely to be cause for cheer either. The Met office has forecast 93 per cent of LPA in July – again below normal rainfall. Compensation is expected only in August when IMD’s “above normal” rainfall – 101 per cent of the LPA – has been predicted.

Asked why the shortfall could not be forecast in April, Chavan said the adverse influence of El Nino – a weather anomaly on the Pacific Ocean that plays havoc with weather patterns all over the world – were visible only in the first half of June.

“Now there is a 60 per cent possibility of 2009 being an El Nino year,” said D S Pai who heads the IMD’s monsoon forecast team at Pune. Out of the eight parameters in the forecast model, as many as four are unfavourable for monsoon.

Weathermen are hoping that the current revival of monsoon will lead to rains in most of central and parts of north India by June 30. Another push, however, is needed to advance the monsoon to the Gangetic plains and the bread basket of Punjab and Haryana.

In the last 100 years, there were 16 years when June rainfall was more than 27 per cent deficient. The overall seasonal rainfall was deficient only five times.

In the remaining eight cases, July and August compensated. In 2002 and 2004 – two draught years in recent times – June rainfall was normal, but things went haywire in July and August. 

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