India’s crucial monsoon is expected to be 15 per cent deficient this season, the weather office said on Friday, the first indication of a drought in three years.

The country has received 20 per cent less rains than normal since the delayed onset of monsoon in June. Till Thursday, the country had received 378.8 mm rainfall against the normal of 471.4 mm. “We expect monsoon to be 15 per cent deficient than the long period average (LPA) which is 89 cm,” Laxman Singh Rathore, Director General, India Meteorological Department (IMD), told reporters in New Delhi.

A country-wide drought is declared when the monsoon rains are less than 90 per cent of the LPA and at least 20 per cent area of the country experiences deficient showers of 25 per cent or more.

On the impact of failed monsoon on agriculture, Mr. Rathore said that paddy cultivation would not be affected but conditions were worrisome for production of coarse cereals.

However, monsoon in August is expected to be normal but a question mark looms over rainfall in September as El Nino conditions (warming of central Pacific Ocean) appear set to turn unfavourable for the country, IMD said in an update to the monsoon forecast. “In August, we are hoping for a better rainfall scenario but there will be some problem in the terminal part of the monsoon,” Mr. Rathore said.

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