Punjab, Haryana receive deficient rains

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TNN | Aug 9, 2011, 03.05AM IST

NEW DELHI: At a time when the government is banking on a good agricultural output to tide over its inflation woes, the key southwest monsoon continues to be a cause for concern.

The two grain bowl states of Punjab and Haryana have received deficient rain this season. While Punjab has received 20% less rainfall, Haryana is 28% deficient, minister of state in the ministry of earth sciences, Aswani Kumar, told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

At least 14 states have received deficient rainfall, with the overall deficiency in the country being in the range of 5%. Only three states have received excess rainfall, but the good news is that no state has received scanty or no rainfall.

Among the other states that have received deficient rainfall are Delhi (39% less), Gujarat (30%), Orissa (24%) and Himachal Pradesh (24%). The worst-hit has been the north-east region, where rainfall has been far less than the Met office's prediction. In the first phase, deficiency ranged from 16% in Arunachal Pradesh to 50% in Mizoram. Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura are 31%, 38% and 33% deficient, respectively. Madhya Pradesh has received 34% more rainfall than what it usually gets.

So far, monsoon has been patchy across the country. The Met department's forecast in June was rains would be 95% of the long-term average, down from its April prediction of 98% and a notch below the 96%-104% range, which is seen as normal monsoon.

The government expects robust monsoon to boost farm production that may help to calm food prices. It also expects the farm sector to aid overall economic expansion on the back of a vigorous monsoon. The economy is expected to grow by 8.5% in the current fiscal that ends in March, 2012, but some economists say growth could be lower due to the impact of global economic woes.

The country has faced the problem of scanty rains in the past, but there has been no severe impact on foodgrain production. In 2009, monsoon was 23% deficient that led to drought in some parts of the country and hurt crop production.

Despite the deficient rainfall in many states, the progress of monsoon has been on course with the entire country having been covered by July 9. It had started progressing to the north from May 29. During the June-July period, vigorous monsoon conditions persisted over large parts of the country, including east Rajasthan, Marathwada, Saurashtra and Kutch, west and east Madhya Pradesh and south interior Karnataka. Vigorous monsoon conditions refer to days that have received greater than four times the average rainfall for the day.

Deficient monsoon:

Haryana: -28%
Punjab: -20%
Delhi: -39%
Diu (UT): -35%
Manipur: -50%
Madhya Pradesh: 34%
Orissa: -24%
Nagaland: -38%