India

Drought fears after lower monsoon forecast

A well in Gujarat Image copyright Reuters

Media and experts are fearing a drought after India's metrological department lowered its monsoon rains forecast to 88% this year.

Monsoon rains between June to September are crucial for India's farmers and also for the economy.

The forecast in April was about 93% of the long-term average.

But the reduced forecast in June has sparked fears of a drought.

Millions of farmers across the country depend on monsoon rains for good yields and that eventually helps the economy.

But any deficit becomes disastrous for India's farmers. Usually rains below 90% are believed to bring a drought in several parts of India.

The Zee News says it's "a bad news for the country in general and the agriculture sector in particular".

The India Today magazine says the "Met department has predicted that the country is staring at the prospects of yet another drought".

Other papers like the Hindustan Times have highlighted the monsoon has already been delayed this year.

"The arrival of the monsoons has already been delayed in the country's southern tip, Kerala, by about four-five days and large parts of the country experiencing a searing heat wave which has left near 2,000 people dead," it says.

'Bad news' for PM

Observers say the news is likely to upset Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic revival plans.

The government's nervousness can be understood from Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan's statement on Tuesday.

"Let's pray to God that the revised forecast does not come true," he said.

Reports suggest that the government has already started preparing contingency plans.

"The union government has already swung into action with Prime Minister Narendra Modi closely monitoring the developments and directing ministries concerned to make necessary preparations and take action so that the common man is not affected," writes The New Indian Express.

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