Monsoon rains, the lifeline of the country's Dollars 2 trillion economy, are expected to be 97 per cent of a long-term average, KJ Ramesh, director general of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), said. India had 95 per cent of the LPA rainfall a year ago - as against the first forecast of 96 per cent of the LPA (with an error margin of +/- 5 per cent).
However another factor, called the Indian Ocean Dipole, which if "positive" helps the monsoon and will likely not aid the monsoon's case this year. "The forecast suggests that the monsoon rainfall during the 2018 season averaged over the country as a whole is likely to be 97 per cent", IMD Director General K.J. Ramesh said at press conference here.
A good monsoon is good news for the Indian economy.
The onset of the monsoon in June kick-starts planting of rain-fed Kharif crops.
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IMD will update its forecast in early June with numbers on month and region-wise distribution of the monsoon. The IMD categorises rainfall in the 96 per cent to 104 per cent LPA range as normal while the rain immediately below that, it is considered below normal.
It said that normal rains are likely for the country, particularly East India, while the Southern Peninsula and parts of Northeast India could be at some risk of getting below normal rains.
The IMD, which released its initial forecast for the four-month monsoon season, also said preliminary indications showed this year's rains would evenly distributed.
Anything less than 90 per cent of LPA is termed a "deficient" monsoon, and 90-96 per cent of the same is considered "below normal".