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Worry For Cyclone!

In 1961, the southwest monsoon started withdrawal from India on 1 October. This was recorded as the most delayed monsoon withdrawal of all time. However, the things are worse this time in 2020 when there is no such indication of monsoon withdrawal from Odisha and India as well even after 17 October.

The SW monsoon is very active in the state and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast another spell of rain due to low pressure formation from 19 October. The delay in monsoon withdrawal has come as a double shock for the country which is already fighting anunremitting war against COVID-19 pandemic with no end in sight.

As the monsoon refuses to withdraw, the humidity level in Odisha remains above 80 per cent in the night and people experience perspiration even during the middle of October. Now since the monsoon is active, the IMD has also indicated yet another low pressure on 26 October. Therefore, there is no question of monsoon returning back before November against its usual date of last week of September.

Delay of monsoon withdrawal also gives rise to fear of cyclone in November. Keeping the 100 years records in view, this coastal state has never experienced any cyclone after November 7. However, due to the delay in monsoon withdrawal, the November 7 deadline for cyclones is also expected to be extended. Generally, Odisha gets cyclones within a month of the monsoon withdrawal. As the withdrawal of monsoon is extended by another month, the weather experts fear that the cyclone deadline may also get extended till December end.

Odisha generally experiences the cyclones both during the monsoon period- June to October and within a month of the system withdrawal. However, the cyclones like Fani in 3 May last year and Amphan this year during the same period have set the fear of summer cyclones also. With extension in monsoon withdrawal, nobody is sure whether the state will face any winter cyclone or not.

However, weather scientists opine that the cyclone in winter may not be possible due to low sea water temperature during this season. December may be considered as a month of winter, but due to delay in monsoon withdrawal, the people may not feel cold this time as it used to be during the year end. The delayedwithdrawal of monsoon may also extend the winter. 

The delayed monsoon withdrawal has its direct adverse impact on the state’s economy. As agriculture is the backbone of the state’s economy, the delay in the withdrawal of monsoon will hamper the cultivation activities badly. The farmers have already started feeling the impact of the delayed monsoon withdrawal. The entire Rabi crop is hugely affected due to rains as the state has already witnessed 10 back-to-back low pressures from August to October.
While there were five low-pressure formations in August, one such situation was created in September and four others in October itself. As a result, the Rabi crop is hugely damaged. Apart from paddy, pulses and vegetable cultivation is also affected. The people of Odisha experience a rise in vegetable price in the month of Kartik. However, now the prices of vegetables have spiked much before Kartik. Nobody knows what will happen during the sacred month whenpeople rely mostly on vegetables while abstaining from consumption of non-vegetarian food.

According to the financial experts, agriculture was the main source of livelihood for the people during the lockdown period as it remained open in many places. Since industries and many other economic activities remained suspended during the four month lockdown period, the government stressed on the agriculture sector which progressed well this time little knowing the frequent low pressure induced rains will drain out all the efforts made by the government for the farmers.  

The people had invested all the resources available with them in cultivation as it was considered as a main source of income during the pandemic. However, the heavy rainfall till October end has damaged all the crops. The rains have damaged even ripe paddy crops in many areas of the state.

To add to the woes of farmers, the state government, which launched the KALIA scheme before 2019 general elections, has diluted the scheme after merger with the PM KissanNidihiSamman. The farmers are not getting the input assistance as provided under KALIA scheme. Now after rains damaging everything, the farmers’ community is almost pushed to the verge of penury, even as both the state government and the central government claimed to have announced a package for the agriculture sector.

The people at the helm should now understand that the benefits of the COVID package forfarmershave been washed out by the rains till October end. The farmers are faced with the same situation as before getting the benefits. They have lost their money, labor and efforts and therefore are looking at the sky with tears in their eyes praying for the rain god to stop pouring further water on their efforts. Will the government repeat the package and assistance for the farmers as the delayed monsoon has damaged their efforts?

Why did the monsoon’s retreat get so delayed? The monsoon withdraws when the wind flows from west to east direction. This apart, stoppage of rainfall activities continuously for four days also indicates monsoon retreat. However, if IMD forecast is taken into consideration, there is forecast for heavy rainfall on 21-22 October. This may follow formation of another low pressure area on 26 October. However, these two low pressures will be like the rain storm and not to be accompanied by wind, the experts said.

This apart, the withdrawal of monsoon begins with the development of a high-pressure area over north-west India. High-pressure zones represent settled weather and low wind movement, whereas intense low-pressure zones attract moisture-bearing winds and therefore host weather disturbances like rains, thunderstorms or lightning. Such indications are yet to be seen, they said.  

This time, the multiple low-pressure over the subcontinent, especially northern and western India, prevented the timely formation of high pressure or the anti-cyclonic conditions essential for the rains’ withdrawal. So weather experts are worried about cyclonic storm window, which may remain open for another one month after withdrawal of monsoon.