The onset of the southwest monsoon in the country is likely to be delayed by a week, arriving only by June 6 or 7 instead of the first day of the month, Union Minister of Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan said today.
The Union Minister, however, said that the monsoon would be normal this year. "It is expected to come up to 96% (of the long-term average), plus or minus 5%," he explained, adding that the extent of the rainfall could be a little lower in June.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) describes normal rainfall as anywhere between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 89 centimetres for the entire four-month monsoon season, beginning June.
Dr Harsh Vardhan, who took charge of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Earth Sciences for a second term today, had a word of comfort for the country at a time when it is battling severe heat wave conditions. "The current spell of heat wave in northern India should abate after another two to four days. But another heat wave could happen before the monsoon finally arrives," he said.
According to weather monitoring website El Dorado, 11 of the 15 hottest places across the world in the 24 hours leading up to Monday were found to be in India. Churu in Rajasthan topped its list, with mercury levels touching 50.3 degrees Celsius.
Delhi has also been reeling under a heat wave over the last week, with the maximum temperature touching 46-47 degrees Celsius in some parts. Banda, at 47.4 degrees Celsius, turned out to be the hottest place in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. Parts of Gujarat's Saurashtra region also continued to reel under heat wave conditions, with Surendranagar registering the highest temperature at 45.3 degrees Celsius.
According to private weather forecasting agency Skymet, the pre-monsoon rainfall this year also happened to be the second-lowest since 1954 - further contributing to the country's summer woes. According to its estimate, the three-month pre-monsoon season extending through March, April and May ended with a rainfall deficiency of 25%.
(With inputs from PTI)