NEW DELHI : After a late arrival in drought-hit Maharashtra, the Southwest monsoon is likely to cover Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha over the next three days, and inch toward eastern Uttar Pradesh, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said Friday.

The progress of the monsoon has been inconsistent this year, marked by intermittent phases of stagnation.

Its movement stalled soon after hitting the Kerala coast on 8 June, delaying its advance over other states. However, it has picked up pace over the last two days.

Maharashtra normally receives monsoon rains around 7 June, but this year, the rains hit the state only on Thursday. The delay has forced farmers in the region to push back the sowing of kharif crops. The Southwest rains are crucial to agricultural productivity, particularly given the fact that large parts of India face drought conditions.

Up until Friday, the monsoon had covered most parts of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and all of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. It is advancing toward central Maharashtra, southern Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar.

“Over the next three days, we expect the monsoon to cover entire Karnataka, Telangana, Konkan, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. After that, it is likely to enter some parts of Vidarbha, east Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh," said K. Sathi Devi, head, national weather forecasting centre, IMD.

The northern limit of the monsoon current, which indicates its progress, currently passes through Ratnagiri and Sangli (Maharashtra), Bijapur (Karnataka), Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh), Phulbani (Odisha), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Asansol (West Bengal) and Purnea (Bihar).

The overall rain deficit continues to stand at 43%, with as many as 22 out of the total 36 sub-divisions facing deficit over 20%. This includes Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, north Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana.

Rainfall needs to be consistent for more than two days, along with the presence of monsoon current and corresponding wind-pattern, for the IMD to declare its arrival over a certain region.

In its second long-range forecast, the weather department had predicted rainfall to be normal at 97% of the long-period average of 89cm for southern states. However, the situation does not look very promising for the peninsula, which faces a rainfall deficit of nearly 38%.

The rains continue to be dismal in as many as 10 divisions, including Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, which have witnessed over 60% deficient rainfall.

Though the monsoon has covered Tamil Nadu almost entirely, the state continues to battle a severe water crisis.

The prevailing El Niño conditions continue to affect the rains. The latest IMD forecast also indicated that the conditions are likely to continue through the season till September and begin to turn neutral afterwards. The ocean phenomenon, characterized the by warming of Pacific Ocean, is not favourable for the Southwest monsoon. It was associated with the 2014-15 drought.