Rainfall in the southwest monsoon season so far this year has been 38% below normal, latest data from the India Meteorological Department showed. The weather department said that India received only 70.9 mm rainfall until June 23, against a long-period average of 114.2 mm for the period.

The southwest monsoon season starts from June 1 officially, and ends on September 30. This year, it reached the Kerala coast on June 8.

Out of 36 meteorological subdivisions in the country, only six received “normal”, “excess” or “large excess” rainfall in the period. As many as 26 subdivisions had “deficient” rain, while four had “large deficient” rainfall.

Among districts, 47% face large deficits with at least 60% below-normal rainfall or no rain at all, The Hindu reported. Overall, nearly 80% of the districts are facing a rainfall deficit of at least 20% below normal. Vidarbha is the worst-affected region with an 89% deficit.

The India Meteorological Department has four divisions – east and the northeast, south peninsula, central India, and the northwest. Out of the 10 subdivisions of central India, Odisha and Chhattisgarh were the only ones to get normal rainfall from June 1 to June 23, while three subdivisions got “large deficient” rainfall.

Deficient rainfall has directly impacted the country’s reservoirs, which have been depleted below normal, The Indian Express reported. The Central Water Commission reported that 59 out of the 91 major water reservoirs in India currently has below-normal storage, with 11 of them at nil storage.

The rain deficit has also delayed the sowing of summer foodgrains as parts of central and the peninsular India are facing drought for the second consecutive year.

Farmers’ groups have demanded that the government declare drought in the areas that have been adversely affected by the deficit rainfall. “There must not be any delay in the declaration of drought,” The Hindu quoted a statement from the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, a platform with over 200 farmers’ groups. “Instead of waiting for the end of the monsoon, drought must be declared in all those districts where sowing has been severely affected owing to 50% or greater deficit in June.”

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