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Monday, June 15, 2009

Delayed rains worry govt as polls near

HALF-WAY through June, the state looks skyward in despair. With assembly polls around the corner, a delayed monsoon is the last thing the government wants to deal with.
    Under normal circumstances, the monsoon should have hit Mumbai by June 10 and Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh by June 15. But the weather bureau says there will
be no rains for the next three to four days.
    The sowing season and the state's economy are likely to take a huge hit. The monsoon's late arrival is bound to delay the sowing of crops like soybean, peanuts and cotton. State officials recall how a similar delay last year lowered cane yields
in the state, leading to halving of the sugar output. Nearly two-thirds the state sugar cooperatives have failed to reopen this year, thanks to the paucity of the sugarcane.
    Last year's delay also hit Madhya Pradesh, the biggest producer of soybean, besides Andhra Pradesh — the second-largest producer of rice and peanuts. Gujarat, the largest grower of peanuts and cotton, too bore the brunt of an erratic monsoon.

    Mumbai too, is sweating it out this season, in addition to facing a water shortage. Of the six reservoirs in and around the city, water levels at Vihar and Upper Vaitarna have dipped below their lowest useable levels. Tansa too will soon face the same situation if the rains are delayed further. Water levels in the other three reservoirs have been receding fast as they are being used to meet additional demand.
    Last week, the Brihanmum
bai Municipal Corporation announced a 5% water cut as a precautionary measure. Only a month ago, the initial progress of the rains had the set a very different mood for the state. As against its usual arrival date of June 1, the monsoon was expected early this year — around May 23 — triggering hopes of a respite from the sweltering heat.
    As indicated initially, it soon reached the Konkan coast, but Cyclone Aila, which which struck parts of Orissa and West Bengal on May 25, halted its progress. The cyclone took over 200 lives besides sucking up moisture from the monsoon system, weakening its progress. This resulted in the annual seasonal rains not moving any further despite reaching Ratnagiri on the western coast and Paradip on the eastern coast by June 7.

Rains likely
by June 20
MUMBAI: The annual monsoon rains are seen reviving around June 20, India Meteorological Department said on its website late Monday evening. The department also said the southwest monsoon will not advance further during the next three days. — Reuters

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