Normal monsoon in India this year

By agencies   |   Thursday, 21 April 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Normal monsoon is expected this year, sparking hope that the farm dependent economy will sustain its strong growth, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said.

"We expect 98 percent rainfall during the June-September monsoon period," Sibal said quoting the Indian Meteorological Department's operational long-range forecast for 2005.

However, a firm prediction will be possible only in June when the first monsoon rains usually hit India's southern coast, he added.

The Indian Meteorological Department said their forecast models showed "that there is a very high 75 percent probability for the 2005 monsoon season rainfall for the country as a whole to be near normal and above."

"We are cautious, hopeful and sanguine," Sibal said.

The country's economic fortunes hinge extensively on the annual monsoon rains and last season's delayed downpours affected farm output for the summer season, affecting the overall economic growth rate.

Sibal also said his department was giving top priority to developing better models for forecasting to help prevent drought due to faulty planning.

Two-thirds of Indians work in agriculture, making them heavily dependent on the annual rains, which sweep India from south to north. High farm output usually stokes demand for consumer goods in rural India, spurring the growth of the industry.

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