Private weather forecaster Skymet has revised its previous prediction of probability of drought from 25 per cent in April, to 60 per cent now.

A drought is a deficiency of 10 per cent rainfall from the normal, cumulatively. Skymet predicts a deficit of 9 per cent in rainfall with an error margin of four per cent. The driest parts of the country are North-West, West and Central India where the probability of drought ranges from 75 to 80 per cent and foodgrain output is expected to fall by more than 10 per cent.

Skymet CEO Jatin Singh said: “Our prediction, which is based on data using several international models, is that there is a 60 per cent probability of overall drought and a 30 per cent probability of below normal rainfall. There is only a 10 per cent probability of normal rainfall.”

India has already seen a 43 per cent deficit this year. This is being attributed to the El Nino effect or the warming up of Pacific waters. The effect is expected to peak between November, 2014 and January, 2015, which could lead to deficient rainfall in Australia too. Mr. Singh added that as per data available right now, the drought was not as bad as 2002 and 2009 when India had 23 per cent deficient rainfall.

The worst-hit States are Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. While the north western region is well irrigated, Central India is likely to suffer low Kharif output.

“Production of soyabean in Madhya Pradesh and groundnut in Gujarat is expected to be hit. Overall food production may fall by 10 to 20 per cent. This will not have any impact on availability of food, as there are food reserves. But, it will result in loss leading to a fall in the gross domestic product and employment,” D. R. Sikka, Chairman of the Scientific Review and Monitoring Committee of the National Monsoon Mission told The Hindu.

After the release of the forecast, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: “Right now it is not a panic situation... Signs are that some people will try to take advantage of this situation. So the benchmark of good governance is to anticipate the problem.”

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