The end game for the four-month long south-west monsoon season has begun, even as the deficiency in the cumulative rainfall since the beginning of the season, across the country, continues to hover around 20 per cent, more on the negative side, making it one of the worst drought years of the century.

The India Meteorology Department on Friday announced that the system has started withdrawing.

“Southwest monsoon has withdrawn from many parts of west Rajasthan today, 23 September, 2009. The withdrawal line passes through Sri Ganganagar, Churu, Jodhpur and Barmer,” a press release from the apex weather agency said.

It had been a roller coaster ride for the monsoon season this year. Starting with a deficiency of 32 per cent for the week ending June 3, it has been a continuous story of deficiencies right through the season. The situation was the worst around the end of June, when the deficiency reached a level of 54 per cent during the week ending June 24. Situation improved somewhat during July, with the deficiency coming down to 19 per cent during the week ending July 22. It remained at that level for the next one week and then climbed to 25 per cent during the week ending August 5. Since then it has remained in the 20 per cent to 30 per cent region.

As of Wednesday, the cumulative rainfall deficiency is 22 per cent. This is one per cent more than what was recorded a week ago [September 16]. It, however, remains to be seen what the final tally would be on September 30, when the season officially comes to an end.

According to the latest IMD forecast, even while the system is likely to withdraw from more parts of north-west India over the next three to four days, there could be fairly widespread rainfall activity, with even isolated heavy falls over Orissa and Andhra Pradesh from Saturday to Monday and widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to heavy falls in Maharashtra and Goa subsequently from Tuesday to next Friday.

Concurrently, rainfall activity is also like to increase over other parts of the peninsular region and there is a possibility of scattered rains over the north-eastern States and adjoining east India.

The fresh bout is expected as there are signs that a low-pressure area could form over west-central and adjoining northwest region of Bay of Bengal during the next two days and that it could move in a west-north-westward direction.

Meanwhile, the north-western region continues to top the list in terms of rainfall deficiencies. As of Wednesday, the region, comprising Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, has recorded a deficiency of 34 per cent.

It was followed by the north-east region, with a deficiency of 25 per cent. The region consists of Bihar, West Bengal, and Jharkhand, apart from the northeastern States.

Central India, consisting of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chattisgarh and Gujarat came third with a deficiency of 19 per cent. The southern peninsula region, comprising Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, brought up the rear with a deficiency of eight per cent.

Out of the total 533 meteorological districts, as many as 39 (or seven per cent) have recorded only “scanty” rainfall (or a deficiency of over 60 per cent) and a whopping 259 others (or 49 per cent) “deficient” rainfall (or a deficiency of between 20 per cent and 59 per cent).

Incidentally, 34 out of the 259 “deficient” districts were located in the south peninsular region. This included 14 districts in Andhra Pradesh, 10 in Tamil Nadu, six in Kerala, two in Karnataka. The balance two are: the sole district of Pondicherry and the Nicobar district of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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