WEATHER WATCH: Monsoon late, UP worries – while glut in Darjeeling plains ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY TAPAS CHAKRABORTY
WITH INPUTS FROM G.S. MUDUR IN NEW DELHI
Lucknow, June 22: Around this time last year, Rohit Sharma would look at the sky every morning and then call the weather office.
The young business administration graduate from Rae Bareli who took up farming is still doing that.
There’s not even a speck of cloud in the sky, which means the monsoon is already a week late. The monsoon normally arrives in Uttar Pradesh around June 15.
With the forecast hinting that rains might not start until July 1, farmers in Uttar Pradesh — a major source of the nation’s sugarcane and wheat — are swinging between hope and despair.
“Despite improvements in technology, we often feel helpless when the monsoon plays truant,” said Rohit, 34.
Regional Met office director J.P. Gupta said the rush of monsoon clouds towards Uttar Pradesh had been obstructed near Raxaul in Bihar last week because of a crosscurrent of winds. “Revival of fresh rain clouds for the state may be delayed by at least another week,” he said.
Farmers say a good monsoon is vital this year after the near-drought conditions in 15 districts last year.
Meteorologists say the concern among farmers was understandable. “We’ve had a severe summer, water levels in ponds and streams are low,” said Ajit Tyagi, director-general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), in Delhi.
The agency had last week predicted a week of subdued monsoon activity.
Tyagi confirmed that the monsoon hadn’t arrived in Uttar Pradesh yet. “But we expect a revival of the monsoon around June 25,” he said.
The IMD has, through agro-meteorological centres, issued advisories to farmers in the heartland state to delay sowing of crops by 10-15 days.
S.L. Gupta, secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mills Association, said that with the monsoon behind schedule, crops would face “initial” setback.
But Gupta remained positive. “The gain will be immense if next month’s rains are good and well distributed,” he said.
State agriculture officials, however, were worried about the impact of the delayed rains. Before June 15 last year, they pointed out, nearly 3.44 lakh hectares were under cultivation for various crops. A delayed monsoon may force a reduction of the crop area to about 2.53 lakh hectares this year, they said.
“We are trying to know how much of paddy crop would be hit by the prevailing weather conditions,” said R.B. Trivedi, an agriculture scientist and independent researcher.