AA Edit | Timely onset of monsoon will be most welcome

The eagerly anticipated Indian monsoon may bring much-needed relief to drought-hit areas, coinciding with the crucial poll results on June 4

There are two things the nation is eagerly anticipating now — the Lok Sabha and Assembly poll results and the arrival of the great Indian monsoon. If the monsoon sets in on May 31 or June 1 over Kerala as predicted by the Indian Meteorological Department, it is bound to add to the buoyancy of mood factor on the results day, which is June 4.

Regardless of who gets to rule from New Delhi, a normal monsoon, defined by 87 cm rainfall as 100 per cent of the long period average, is an event to be celebrated nationally, especially in a year in which the land, excepting the east that has just seen the season’s first cyclone “Remar” pass by and parts of south which have had pre-monsoon showers, is bearing the brunt of scorching heat waves.

As the second long-range forecast predicts, the southwest monsoon should be bounteous in most parts of the country, particularly the region dependent on agriculture in rain-fed farmlands though the news may not be that good for northeastern parts. Given the deleterious effects of global warming-induced climate change, erratic behaviour of the monsoon in some parts of the country is not to be discounted.

Where the forecast gives room for greater optimism is in its stress on the likelihood of “above normal” rainfall in the monsoon core zone — which is not that fortunate in being endowed with perennial river-fed irrigation water sources — and at least normal in granary states like Punjab.

It is also being said now that the weakening of El Nino conditions leading to ENSO-neutral conditions by June-July and then the developing of the La Nina effect, the second part of the monsoon in August-September is likely to be better. For a nation that boasts of being the fastest growing economy among the larger ones and whose GDP is expected to grow at around seven per cent, a better than normal monsoon can be an ideal scenario.

How crucial the monsoon is may be fully reflected in the almost-devotion with which Indians look up to the skies, but it is not critical for agriculture alone though half the net cultivated area relies on monsoon rainfall. It is in the matter of replenishing reservoirs, which also generate hydropower and serve drinking water needs of large and expanding urban centres, that the rainfall may be doing us a dual favour.

The Central Water Commission data puts water storage in 150 major reservoirs at a mere 24 per cent of live storage. While a megalopolis like Bengaluru was in danger of running out of water until rescued by some rain, cities like Chennai are also feeling the pinch of inadequate water storage.

Adding to the optimism over the monsoon, generally bright in IMD circles at times of forecasting as a government agency, the private forecasters, who have been playing a major role in micro rain predictions in social media platforms, have also joined the positive bandwagon this time. Last year they had been more precise with their deficient monsoon forecast than IMD.

A good monsoon, unlike poll results which cannot be good news for all, will be universally welcomed.

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