Monsoon makes a comeback

This year’s south-west monsoon is progressing much better than last year’s

After arriving four days late and being sluggish at the start, monsoon has swung into full form over the west coast, southern peninsula, central India and east and north-east India.

The reach into the hinterland has made up for the initial lag. The Arabian Sea arm has seen more-than-normal monsoon coverage with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha receiving rains ahead of time.

Initial features

The Bay of Bengal arm was giving cause for worry, but even this worry seems misplaced, with the formation of a low-pressure area a couple of days ago. A ‘low’ carries rain into the hinterland and is very crucial for the monsoon to deliver better spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall.

The monsoon onset features this year, in fact, compare favourably with those last year. Both years saw a delay, followed by emergence of a disruptive cyclone, but the impact a fortnight into the season is starkly different this year.

‘Nanauk’ had left a debilitating impact on the monsoon with a 42 per cent deficit in June 2014. The 2014 monsoon never really recovered from this blow; the season closed with an overall deficit of 12 per cent in June-September 2014.

Starkly different

But a year down the line, the monsoon has not just successfully weathered cyclone ‘Ashobaa,’ but has also delivered surplus rainfall of 11 per cent until June 17. The Bay ‘low’ looks very promising too. The Indian Met Department believes it is here for the long haul and will intensify into a monsoon depression.

The slow pace may allow it to stay put for longer, and drive up rainfall many times over. This could also pose the threat of flooding in low-lying areas in east and central India and landslides in vulnerable areas of the hills in the north-east.

A monsoon depression could therefore represent the most virulent form of the monsoon.

Its impact could become more telling if it acts in consort with a counterpart over the Arabian Sea.

This looks to be very much the case building now; the strong monsoon flows generated by the Bay system are already touching off activity in the Arabian Sea in the form of a cyclonic circulation off the Gujarat coast. Both will act as massive pulleys in the atmosphere, drawing in monsoon winds and oodles of moisture mopped up from the respective seas.

The moisture will provide the needed fuel for the monsoon engine to work overtime to peak capacity.

The Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal may soon interact to set up a larger area of influence over central and adjoining east India, and the immediate neighbourhood. This will bring the entire area under enhanced monsoon conditions, washing away any fears of drought for now and allowing farmers to carry on with sowing.

Sowing trend

According to Nabansu Chattopadhyay, Deputy Director-General (Agriculture Meteorology), India Met Department, Pune, there is a likelihood of increased rainfall over north-west India during the latter part of the next fortnight. Land preparation for sowing of kharif crops may be undertaken in West Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan.

Sowing is down 7.4 per cent this year as compared to the same period last year, says Naveen Mathur, Associate Director, Commodities and Currencies, Angel Broking.

This is mainly driven by a fall in acreage of coarse cereals like jowar, bajra and ragi. The Centre had hiked the minimum support price for ragi by ₹100 per quintal earlier this week to ₹1,650. For jowar varieties and bajra, it was raised by ₹40 and ₹25 per quintal, respectively.

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