Sowing of kharif crops showed signs of weakness as the southwest monsoon entered a brief lull. Till Friday, 93.84 mn hectares were covered.
This was more than the 2014 coverage but less than the area that should have been covered by now. In 2014, around 92.94 mn hectares were covered by August 20, while the normal area was 95.28 mn hectares. Around 89 per cent of the normal area sown under kharif crops has been covered.
The southwest monsoon was 10 per cent below normal during the week ended August 19, from a 30 per cent shortfall during the previous week. Both the India Meteorological Department and Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology have predicted below-normal rainfall over central, north, and eastern India till the first week of September.
Water levels in 90-odd major reservoirs across the country as on August 20 were estimated at 91.07 bn cubic metres, 58 per cent of the storage position. But if rains ebb, water levels could dry up fast, mainly in the most vulnerable western parts of the country.