New Delhi: After stalling for more than a week, the south-west monsoon has advanced towards central India, the government’s weather office said, entering central Maharashtra, the Marathwada region, south-east Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Vidarbha.

It has also continued to progress over Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, the remaining parts of north interior Karnataka and Telangana, and will advance further over these regions in the next 48 hours.

According to data released by the farm ministry on Friday, farmers have delayed the sowing of rain-fed kharif crops due to the slower-than-normal progress of the south-west monsoon.

As of Friday, an area of 8.4 million hectares has been sown, nearly 11% lower than the 9.4 million hectares sown by this time last year.

However, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the monsoon is expected to pick up pace this week.

“Rainfall is likely to increase over many parts of eastern, central and south Peninsular India from 21 June, with above-normal rainfall over central India and along west coast," an IMD bulletin said.

It added that fairly widespread rainfall activity is likely to begin over northwest India from 26 June.

As of Saturday, the country faced a rainfall deficit of 24% in the June to September monsoon season, with an 18% deficit in north-west India, 31% deficit in north-east and east India, and 42% deficit in central India.

The southern peninsula, however, which includes Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, has seen an excess of 8% rainfall this season.

While a late onset and a staggered progress have led to the monsoon recording a deficit so far, IMD this year has forecast the country will receive above-normal rainfall, or 106% of what’s described as the long-period average.

This would bring relief to a country which has faced two consecutive failed monsoon seasons.

After last year, when India faced a 14% deficit in monsoon rainfall in the June to September season, 11 states declared drought.