Rains 8% below normal in week to 16 June

Rains 8% below normal in week to 16 June

New Delhi: India’s annual monsoon rains, vital to the trillion-dollar economy’s farm output and economic growth, were 8% below normal in the week to 16 June, said India Meteorological Department on Thursday, reflecting slow progress.

Countrywide rainfall was 32.5mm during the week against a normal 35.2mm, the Met office said, adding the rainfall was at 64.3mm, 5% below normal between 1 June and 16 June.

After last year’s weakest rains in nearly four decades, a good monsoon will help Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to tame the widely-watched headline inflation which surged to 10.16% in May on higher food and fuel prices.

High prices have lead to street protests, mounting pressure on the Congress-led coalition government to bolster food supplies in the domestic market.

Lower inflation will also encourage the government to free up fuel prices and cut subsidies on diesel, kerosene and cooking gas which could help trim 2010-11 fiscal deficit from the projected 5.5% of GDP and free up revenues for other programmes. The seasonal rains were above normal in southern and northwest India and below normal in some of the central and northeast regions.

The monsoon, after an initial lull this month, has entered the rice, cane and oilseed growing south-western region of India, but has yet to reach the soybean-growing areas of central India and northern Uttar Pradesh, the country’s top cane growing state.