June, marked as the key month for the South West Monsoon, is over. However, its onset remains slow and states like Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, are staring at a huge deficit in rainfall.
Estimates show that the June deficit of rainfall for these three states is about 25% to 40%, which has set off alarm bells across coastal and hill districts.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a normal monsoon for the current season, but its failure to predict the June deficit casts doubt on its forecast for the remaining three monsoon months; lifeblood for most of India.
States like Kerala, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, which witnessed devastating floods in 2018 and 2019 are now praying for a bountiful rain to meet their requirements for agriculture and drinking water.
In the last week of May and first week of June, it rained well in some parts, raising hopes of an early 'bumper' Monsoon. But, rainfall remained slow in the last three weeks of June.
Sowing has already begun across parts of Western India and the rain deficit continues to raise anxieties in farmer households.
Compared to an average Monsoon, Karnataka is staring at rainfall a deficit of 25% to 40%. The Western Ghat districts of Kodagu, Hassan, Chickmagalur, Shimoga, Uttara Kannada and Belgaum, which are home to major rivers, have received scanty rainfall. The water level in all reservoirs is very low and even in the coast, rain has failed.
Meanwhile, IMD is issuing regular alerts of positive rainfall, but the on-hand situation stands different.
In Kerala, except for four districts, rainfall remains low in the rest of the state. The state so far has received 536 mm of rain against an average of 643 mm. Six districts – Ernakulam, Wayanad, Malappuram, Palakkad, Thrissur and Idukki -- have received less rainfall compared to the last few years.
Kerala has received 17% less rainfall in June compared to average figures. The situation is grim even in Goa and Maharashtra.
If the Monsoon rainfall recovers in July and figures remain positive till August end, the deficit can be covered and all reservoirs, tanks can be filled up once again.
The Covid-19 outbreak has already caused stress to people's livelihoods and the threat of a bad Monsoon continues to plague those dependent on it.
(With inputs from Chandrakanth Vishwanath)