India is likely to face 'significant' drought this year even as the Narendra Modi government expects to post higher growth numbers in 2015-16, its second year in office.
A US-based meteorological service provider has forecast that the country will face a "significant" drought situation, as "very active" typhoons over the Pacific are likely to result in weak monsoon rainfall.
"A very active typhoon season, combined with drought in much of India, could have a significant impact on lives and property for more than a billion people in Asia during the summer of 2015," AccuWeather told The Economic Times.
AccuWeather links the occurrence of drought condition to the El Nino phenomenon, a warm phase of changing sea surface temperatures in tropical Pacific, which often results in more number of typhoons and super typhoons than usual.
"A phenomenon known as El Nino is forecast to strengthen over the summer," said senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls at AccuWeather.
El Nino conditions could lead to below-normal monsoon rainfall, bringing down agricultural output and raising the spectre of food inflation.
Data shows 10 out of 13 droughts that occurred since 1950 have had an El Nino connection. The occurrence of El Nino in 2009 coincided with the worst drought in four decades in India.
AccuWeather's forecast is in line with the prediction made by domestic weather agency Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in early May.
The IMD seems to be cautious in its approach while estimating the situation in order to avoid creating panic, whereas AccuWeather does not intend to hide details, the report said.
The IMD had said the monsoon rainfall this year would be 93 percent of the long-period average. IMD defines the rainfall as below normal when it is in the range of 90-96%. The department cites El Nino conditions as the main reason behind below normal rainfall this year.
The second consecutive year of weak monsoon will adversely affect agricultural activity in the nation resulting in a rise in food inflation at a time when food prices are already rising due to unseasonal rains, which have caused severe damage to standing crops.
"While there will be some rainfall on the region, the pattern could evolve into significant drought and negatively impact agriculture from central India to much of Pakistan," Nicholls said.