Government downgrades rain forecast, rules out drought

New Delhi, August 12: The government on Tuesday downgraded the rain forecast for the season despite monsoon picking up recently but ruled out any possibility of drought. The downgrade from 93 to 87 percent of the Long Period Average (LPA) was done due to shortage of rain during June, which was 43 percent of the LPA.

“The latest estimate suggests the 2014 southwest monsoon rainfall over the country as a whole is likely to be 87 percent of the LPA,” Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Earth Science told a news conference here after reviewing the second half of the Long Range Forecast for the season. ”The season rainfall (June to September) over the country as a whole is likely to be 87 percent of the (LPA) with a model error of plus or minus 4 percent.

“There is 68 percent probability for the season rainfall over the country as a whole to be deficient (less than 90 percent of LPA). The probability for below normal rainfall (90-96 percent of LPA) is 24 percent,” the Indian Meteorological Department said in a statement. This indicates that the country is expected to receive “deficient” rainfall, contrary to the prediction it had earlier made about “below normal” monsoon.

“The figure went down due to shortfall of rain in June, which was 43 percent. Although the monsoon picked up in July which saw 90 percent of rainfall and then in the first half of August. ”For the second half of August and September, we are expecting 95 percent of rainfall. Despite this, the shortfall in June was too much to match our prediction,” said Shailesh Nayak, secretary of MOES.

Singh, however, ruled out any possibility of drought. “There is no scientific evidence to suggest that there is drought. There is no reason to be alarmist about it. Overall it’s not a pessimistic picture. As per the IMD, conditions of drought like situation are reviewed by September 30,” he said. Nayak said that it was up to the Agriculture Ministry to take a call on drought.

According to the Laxman Singh Rathore, Director General of the IMD, Northwest India is likely to be worst hit this year and is expected to receive 76 percent of rainfall, while Central India is expected to receive 89 percent, the Southern peninsula 87 percent and Northeast India is expected to receive 93 percent of the rainfall.