India forecasts normal monsoon

“Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall is likely to be 99% of the long period average (LPA) with a model error of 5%,” earth sciences minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said

New Delhi:  India has predicted a normal monsoon for the third consecutive year, bringing relief to millions of farmers who depend on good rains for a bumper harvest, reports PTI.

“It will be a normal monsoon this year,” earth sciences minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced at a packed press conference here.

He said there was 47% probability of a normal monsoon as against 24% probability of below normal rains this season.

“Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall is likely to be 99% of the long period average (LPA) with a model error of 5%,” Mr Deshmukh said.

The LPA for the country as a whole is pegged at 89 cm which is the average rainfall for the 50-year period from 1951-2000.

Monsoon is crucial for the kharif crops such as rice, soyabean, cotton and maize because almost 60% of the farm land in the country is rainfed.

Agriculture sector will maintain its growth momentum of around 3.5% and may surpass it, Abhijeet Sen, member, Planning Commission told PTI.

India is estimated to have harvested a record 252.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2011-12 crop year as against 244.78 million tonnes in the previous year.

However, weather scientists said that observations of two parameters were not too good for the monsoon. One was the possibility of development of El Nino conditions or warming of the equatorial central Pacific Ocean and the other was the above normal snow cover over the Eurasian region.

“There is inverse relation between the monsoon and the Eurasian snow cover,” D Sivananda Pai, chief monsoon forecaster and director of the National Climate Centre said.

He said the weak La Nina, usually associated with good rains in India, was almost ending and scientists were expecting neutral conditions to prevail throughout the monsoon season.

“There is a large probability for ENSO neutral conditions. We have to watch further for possible El Nino conditions,” Shailesh Nayak, Secretary Earth Sciences said.

India had witnessed drought in 2009 when the El Nino conditions or warming of the central Pacific Ocean affected the monsoon rains.

Rains were within long-term averages in following years, helped by La Nina which is the cooling of the central Pacific Ocean.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will issue an update to the forecast in June.

The IMD forecast for this season contains inputs from Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation (CMMACS), Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).

The IITM model has forecast 100% rainfall of the LPA, the CMMACS has predicted 102% of the LPA, the SAC has forecast 103% of the LPA and the C-DAC has projected 108% rains of the LPA.

Meanwhile, the government last week constituted an Empowered Group of Ministers chaired by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee for effective management of a drought situation.

The EGoM is authorised to review the situation and take “quick and timely decisions” on policy issues as well as other issues for effective management of drought and related issues.

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