TOI photo of Howrah city
NEW DELHI: India experienced its wettest month of June in 12 years with 18% above-normal rainfall on the back of timely monsoon onset and its swift advance across the country. While all four regions have recorded surplus rains, central India as well as east and northeast have received the heaviest showers.
Early figures for kharif season sowing reflects the good rainfall so far, with 315.6 lakh hectare already under cultivation, which is 68% higher than the normal for the week, as per agriculture ministry data from June 26. While the area under rice was 5.7 lakh hectare higher than normal, significantly higher sowing was also recorded in pulses, course cereals, oilseeds and cotton.
India received 196.2mm of rain during the month, highest since 2008, when 202mm was recorded during the month, as per India Meteorological Department records. June’s normal rainfall is currently pegged at 166.9mm. June is the first of the four monsoon months and rainfall during this month often sets the tone for kharif sowing in the country.
This year’s June rainfall was in sharp contrast to June last year, which had ended with a massive 33% rain deficit and was the driest June in the previous five years. Despite that, the 2019 monsoon had turned out to be the wettest since 1994, with 10% higher rainfall than the long period average.
“India received good and uniformly distributed rainfall this June. Out of the 36 meteorological subdivisions, only six have recorded deficient rains,” said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, head of IMD.
The monsoon covered the country on June 26, 12 days ahead of the normal date of July 8. Mohapatra said three weather systems aided the monsoon’s swift progress.
“The first was the low pressure system in Arabian Sea in the end of May, which later intensified into Cyclone Nisarga. It aided the monsoon’s onset over Kerala and, because it moved north towards the Maharashtra-Gujarat coast, it helped monsoon’s further progress as well. Then, two low-pressure systems, one coming from the Bay of Bengal around June 12 and the other in the third week of the month, pushed the monsoon into the rest of the country,” Mohapatra said.
However, while central India, with nearly 31% above-normal rainfall, and east and northeast (16% above normal) have received the maximum rainfall bounty so far, the plains of northwest India are yet to see significant monsoon activity.
“The monsoon’s onset over northwest India was weak. Immediately thereafter, the monsoon trough —along which major rainfall activity takes place — moved close to the Himalayan foothills. We expect the northern plains to get rainfall only after July 4,” the IMD chief said.
The good rainfall so far has also resulted in adequate water storage across the country. The average water level in 123 important reservoirs was nearly 194% of last year’s level and 171% of the 10-year average, as per government data released on June 26.