New Delhi:

The southwest monsoon has covered entire Delhi and advanced to most parts of the country, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Thursday, officially announcing the arrival of the rainy season in the national capital before its usual onset date of June 27.

The monsoon arrived in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) on Wednesday, as reported by HT, though scientists waited till Thursday for an official declaration because there was no rain until 8:30am on Wednesday, the threshold time for the measurement of precipitation.

“Monsoon has already covered entire Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, most parts of Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and entire Delhi as on Thursday,” K Sathi Devi, head, National Weather Forecasting Centre, said.

Cyclone Nisarga, which formed over the Arabian Sea on June 1 and coincided with the arrival of the rains in Kerala, helped the monsoon’s progress, Devi said. So did a low-pressure system over the Bay of Bengal that formed around June 8.

According to IMD, the monsoon is early over several states by at least a week. This is only the sixth time in the last 20 years that Delhi has seen monsoon arrive earlier than its expected date. In 2008, it arrived on June 15, and in 2013 on June 16.

The monsoon arrived in India on June 1, and only parts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana were untouched as of Thursday, according to scientists. Usually, the monsoon covers the entire country by July 8. Also, the monsoon has been 22% excess of long period average till June 24 this year.

“Now, the monsoon trough is shifting northwards; so for three-four days, there will be very heavy and widespread rains in the eastern Himalayan foothills, Bihar and the northeastern states. There will be no rain in central India during this period and monsoon will advance very slowly. July and August are very important months for agriculture and we are expecting a favourable monsoon during those two months,” said M Mohapatra, director general, IMD.

A quicker expansion of the monsoon has spurred hopes of a rural sector-led economic recovery. The June-September monsoon is critical to agriculture and the wider economy. A poor monsoon hits incomes because agriculture employs nearly half of all Indians. The rains are a lifeline for about 60% of the country’s net cultivated area, which have no irrigation.

The monsoon impacts inflation, jobs and industrial demand. Good farm output keeps a lid on food inflation. Ample harvests raise rural incomes and spending, helping inject demand into the economy. For instance, nearly half of all motorcycles and television sets in a year are sold to rural buyers. Such purchases keep demand in the manufacturing sectors ticking.

Through April and May, sales of key inputs such as fertilizers were 74% higher than that in the corresponding months last year, official data show.

As a pandemic-induced threat of recession stares down the Indian economy, the farm sector will be bright spot, growing at least 3% in 2020-21 on the back of good rains, according to a recent Niti Aayog assessment.

“Agriculture should do well. But the nature of our crops is such that July rains count the most. Fingers crossed,” said Chinmay Gurjar, a former official of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

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