New Delhi: Monsoon has covered the entire country one month in advance with Delhi receiving its first showers of the season on Sunday, almost over a fortnight before its scheduled date of June 29, and breaking the 52-year-old record.
South-west monsoon, which kept its June 1 date with Kerala, made rapid progress across the country bringing bountiful showers all along and providing relief to most drought-hit regions and bringing down temperature drastically in north India. But the heavy rains also brought waterlogging, floods, landslides in many parts of the country.
At least 30 people have died in Uttarakhand. Heavy floods have been recorded in Uttarkashi and other parts of Uttarakhand too. The Hemkund pilgrimage has also been put on hold. More than 20,000 people are stranded due to landslides. In Dehradun, three people have reportedly died in the heavy rainfall that hasn't stopped in the past 36 hours.
The rain has taken Delhi too by surprise as heavy rainfall was recorded on Sunday with some rain continuing through the night. The much needed rain did bring down the temperature though, with 36.6 mm rainfall recorded on Sunday. But incessant heavy rains led to waterlogging at the IGI airport in New Delhi, causing inconvenience to passengers who waded through knee deep water while the baggage handling system was crippled.
The MeT has forecast heavy showers on Monday and commuters will be facing huge traffic jams in the national capital. Heavy rains and thundershowers are expected to continue in Uttar Pradesh too. Temperatures have dropped in Punjab and Chandigarh and also parts of Rajasthan.
In Haryana, more than 50 people were stranded after a sudden rise in the water level of the Yamuna river near the Lapara village. Army and NDRF teams reached the spot and rescued the marooned villagers. Almost 2 km of roads in the area have been washed away by rising waters. So far 4 lakh cusecs of water has been released from Hathnikund barrage by the Haryana government.
Meanwhile, incessant rains damaged hundreds of bags of harvested paddy left under the open skies in three Odisha districts of Kalahandi, Rayagada and Koraput, officials said on Sunday. The rain lashed many parts of the state during the past four days as the monsoon set in across the state and a low-pressure belt also formed damaging standing paddy crops too in over 1,500 acres in the three districts worst hit.
The monsoon also hit flights to Mumbai. Six flights were diverted overnight on Sunday due to bad weather including an international flight. Two people died in rain related incidents on Sunday while flooding was reported from Lonavala and Khed in the Ratnagiri district.
In Pune, three people have died after a 12-foot wall collapsed last night. Several vehicles were also burried in the rubble. The police and fire brigade carried out rescue operations. Heavy rains continued to lash the city since Saturday leading to disruption of traffic, frequent electricity failures in various parts even as civic staff cleared the streets of uprooted trees that fell in dozens blocking lanes. The city recorded over 72 mm rainfall on Sunday with water levels in all reservoirs going up significantly following a week-long wet spell.
The rains though are certainly a relief for the drought-hit districts of Maharashtra including Satara. IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore had said on Friday that early onset of monsoon has led to early sowing, particularly of coarse cereals in last year's drought-hit regions.
"Whenever there is timely sowing, we have seen that the production is good. Particularly with respect to drought-hit regions of 2012 the semi-arid corridor which produces coarse cereals - there has been early sowing," he said. Also, the bright side for paddy crop is that with timely onset of monsoon nursery raising is in place. "This would facilitate early or timely cross planting," he said.
Rathore said for long-term crops like cotton, sugarcane and plantation crops the irrigation requirement has vanished due to good rains, which would lead to lower cultivation costs and healthy crop. The weatherman said rainfall has been good in drought-hit regions with Marathwada getting 61 per cent excess rain, Vidarbha (316), Madhya Maharashtra (88), North Interior Karnataka (39), South Interior Karnataka (41) and Saurashtra and Kutch 299 per cent excess rains.
Releasing an update on the monsoon forecast, the weather office had said the country would receive normal and fairly distributed rain in July and August. Rainfall is expected to be at 101 per cent of long-term average in July and 96 per cent in August.
For the country as a whole, monsoon has been 43 per cent excess till June 15 since onset over Kerala on June 1. The strong start to the monsoon boosts prospects of robust farm output which could help the economy and hold down inflation, a critical concern for the UPA as it readies for assembly elections later this year and 2014 Lok Sabha polls.