Parched and powerless in northern India

Fears of an already delayed monsoon have deepened, as it is unlikely to progress towards northern India, and is expected to reach the national capital only in the next 48-72 hours. On Monday though, the Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia cleared doubts on the possibility of a rainfall deficit this monsoon, ' of now there is no reason to reach a conclusion that something adverse is happening,' said Singh, while addressing the issue of monsoon delays affecting the agricultural output in the country.

Ahluwalia said, 'It is true that monsoon is late... may be a week to 10 days late. Just because monsoon is one week late does not mean that it is gong to have a hugely negative effect.

'While the India Meteorological Department [IMD] has stated a 31 per cent rain deficit in the country as on 1 July, even after the expected crucial monsoon season sets into its second month. The weather department also mentions the rain deficit [for a period ranging between 1 July till 2 August] for North East India as 10 per cent, for South Peninsula as 27 per cent, for Central India as 38 per cent, while for North West India as a whopping figures of 71 per cent. Due to the rain deficit and also the city recording a maximum temperature of 43.5 degrees, on Monday Delhi's peak power demand touched 5454 MW, which is the highest ever recorded till now.

Relief from the piercing and unbearable heat in the national capital is unlikely till the next 48 to 72 hours. Reeling under the heat wave, New Delhi was expected to welcome monsoon rains by
29 June, but on Monday the weather office confirmed it is only in the next 48 to 72 hours that monsoon showers are expected to reach the Capital. While an unexpected rise in temperature in
Rajasthan was recorded, with Churu remaining the hottest place in the state with a temperature of 48.6 degree celsius.

Explaining the present weather conditions, SC Bhan, director, IMD, told Millennium Post on Monday: 'Monsoon is most likely to pick up again and in fact weather conditions are favourable for further advance of South West Monsoon into remaining parts of Maharashtra and some more parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh during the next 48 hours. After that, it should move towards the North Indian region. While it is only in the second half of this week that we can expect relief in the form of monsoon showers for Delhi.'

Bhan added, 'The June rain deficit is likely to be compensated this month. The month of June recorded 31 per cent deficit in Monsoon rains in northwest India.' The sultry weather conditions in Delhi might continue for a few more days, but officials at the IMD feel it's this week that Delhi will certainly welcome the monsoon rains. While earlier monsoon was expected to arrive by end of June, now because of the delay it is expected to arrive in the capital in the next 48 to 72 hours.

An official statement on the IMD website stated, 'As per yesterday [Sunday] maximum temperature heat wave to severe heat wave conditions are prevailing over some parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and north Madhya Pradesh. The highest maximum temperature of 46.0°C has been recorded at Churu [Rajasthan].'

An official from the IMD told Millennium Post, 'Weather conditions in the capital are favourable for rains from the next three to four days in Delhi. The synoptic features have shown an improvement, and there are strong chances of arrival of monsoon here.' Asked about the monsoons being delayed, as earlier they were expected by end of June, the official explained, 'There is no fixed or set date for the monsoons to arrive in Delhi. It can always change. Although it is true that this time there has been a slight delay but that is a normal thing. Most probably in the first week of July [that is by the weekend] is the favourable time for monsoon to arrive in Delhi. '

While the much-delayed monsoon in Northern India is still eagerly awaited, as it reels under the heat wave accompanied by endless power and water crisis, Assam and Meghalaya are deluged.
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