New Delhi: The annual monsoon rains, lifeline to farm-dependent Indian economy, was 4% below average in the week to August 1, India Meteorological Department said Thursday, narrowing from the 20% deficit rainfall witnessed last week.
Normal monsoon is crucial for the Indian economy as over 60% of the country's population depends on agriculture and allied activities for livelihood. However, agriculture contributes only about 16% to the country's gross domestic production (GDP).
Earlier Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had said that the Indian government is working on water management plans to ensure adequate supply till next monsoon in the face of deficit rainfall this year, which has intensified fears of the country heading towards a potential drought-like situation.
Deficiency in rains continue even as the weather office maintained during its revised forecast of the monsoons recently that the country will receive sufficient rains this year.
The government recently announced a Rs 19.5 billion relief package for states facing drought-like situation in view of deficient rainfall and a 50% subsidy on diesel for affected farmers.
Also, a team led by Pawar, on Wednesday began a three-day tour of the four drought-hit states, including Maharashtra and Karnataka, to review the situation.
Earlier last week, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had signalled a drought alert, saying that the annual monsoon rains are likely to be below normal this year and directed all ministries concerned to coordinate with state governments to monitor the situation on a weekly basis.
India is the world's second-biggest producer of rice, wheat, sugar and cotton and also one of the largest consumers, with a population of about 1.2 billion.