Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Dec 30, 2002
Agri-Biz & Commodities - Climate & Weather
Truant rains may stunt growth
NEW DELHI, Dec. 29
THE country's kharif crop production may have suffered a setback with the rain gods playing truant in the main south-west monsoon season (June-September). But what could emerge as a bigger source of worry is the lacklustre rains in the post-monsoon period. This may impact the rabi harvest, making 2002-03 probably the worst-ever year for Indian agriculture in almost a quarter of a century.
The Finance Ministry, in its recent mid-year review, had projected the economy to register a growth of "close to 5.5 per cent". This forecast largely rested on the assumption of a buoyant rabi crop offsetting the kharif decline and generating an overall agricultural GDP growth of about one per cent this year. This, in turn, was predicated on the possibility of good post-monsoon precipitation, helping recharge the groundwater aquifer and arresting the depletion in surface water resources on account of poor monsoon rains.
However, going by the India Meteorological Department's latest rainfall data for the post-monsoon period from October 1 to December 25, these hopes seem far from materialising. The average rainfall received by the country as a whole has been 32 per cent below the normal level for this period, with as many as 27 out of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions recording deficient or scanty precipitation. Rainfall has been `scanty' (i.e. shortfall exceeding 60 per cent) in 14 sub-divisions, covering virtually the whole of North, West and Central India.
The extent of shortfall has been 71 per cent in Jammu & Kashmir, 82 per cent in Himachal, 69 per cent in Uttaranchal, 75 per cent in Punjab, 81 per cent in Haryana & Delhi, 94 per cent in East Rajasthan, 69 per cent in West Rajasthan, 82 per cent in West Uttar Pradesh, 64 per cent in West Madhya Pradesh, 99 per cent in Gujarat, 96 per cent in Saurashtra & Kutch, 70 per cent in Madhya Maharashtra, 66 per cent in Marathwada and 73 per cent in Konkan & Goa.
Besides, 13 sub-divisions have registered `deficient' rainfall (i.e. shortfall between 20 and 60 per cent), which includes East Uttar Pradesh (minus 56 per cent), Chhattisgarh (minus 50 per cent), Vidarbha (minus 45 per cent), Orissa (minus 43 per cent), Bihar (minus 52 per cent), Gangetic West Bengal (minus 22 per cent), coastal Andhra Pradesh (minus 31 per cent) and Assam & Meghalaya (minus 53 per cent).
And significantly, out of the 27 sub-divisions to have received deficient-to-scanty rains in the post-monsoon period, there are 14 which recorded deficient precipitation in the main monsoon season as well. These include Himachal, Punjab, Haryana & Delhi, East and West Rajasthan, West and East Uttar Pradesh, West Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Saurashtra & Kutch and coastal Andhra Pradesh.
In other words, nearly 40 per cent of sub-divisions covering almost the whole of North, West and Cental India are currently facing acute soil moisture stress due to the rain gods failing to deliver in both the monsoon and post-monsoon seasons.
The prolonged dry spell is reflected in reservoir levels. For the week ended December 13, the total live storage in the country's 70 major reservoirs stood at 51.84 billion cubic meters (BCM), against 72.29 BCM for the corresponding date of last year and the 10-year average level of 86.35 BCM for this time. The reservoirs are now filled up to less than 40 per cent of capacity and there is more than six months to go for the next monsoon.
It is only in the South that the situation is somewhat better.
While the monsoon was deficient in all the eight sub-divisions of the region, the post-monsoon period has seen normal-to-excess rainfall in all the sub-divisions, barring coastal Andhra Pradesh. And what is of welcome respite is that both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka the central players in the Cauvery dispute have experienced satisfactory post-monsoon precipitation.
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line