India: Will southwest Monsoon withdraw on time?

With more rain forecast for week ahead, official start of monsoon withdrawal may be delayed.

    As a whole, India has received three percent more than its annual average of rain [EPA]
    As a whole, India has received three percent more than its annual average of rain [EPA]

    Since June 1 India's financial hub of Mumbai has received a staggering 3,333 millimetres of rain.

    The state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, has received 55 percent more than their monsoon average, deemed "excess" by the Meteorological Department, topping the list of 10 states with higher-than-average rainfall.

    Overall, central regions and the south peninsula have seen the heaviest rainfall throughout the country.

    At the opposite end of the rainfall totals are the northwest and northeast regions, with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana states all suffering a deficit, and Chandigarh city worst affected, with a deficit of 38 percent.

    As a whole, India has received three percent more than its annual average of rain.

    At the height of the monsoon in August, over 1.2 million people were forced to leave their homes as floodwaters inundated towns and cities across four states - Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala.

    Last year, southern Kerala state witnessed its worst floods in almost a century, leaving 450 people dead and extensive damage to public infrastructure, with this year's floods adding further to the ongoing recovery process.

    The death toll

    The death toll across India since the start of this year's monsoon season has reached more than 1,000 people, according to the Times of India newspaper. Last year, the overall death toll was 1,211.

    The monsoon rains are crucial to replenishing water supplies across India, but every year hundreds of people lose their lives as floodwaters pour through neighbourhoods, submerging towns, cities and thousands of kilometres of farmland.

    The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has an official southwest monsoon withdrawal date of September 1, with the rains retreating from the northwest state of Rajasthan.

    Between September 15 and October 1, the rains withdraw further east into Madhya Pradesh and central Maharashtra, continuing to withdraw further south and east throughout October and November.

    One of the indicators used to confirm the southwest monsoon has begun its annual withdrawal is no rainfall for five continuous days.

    With more widespread rain in the forecast for the week ahead, it may be a while until the IMD declares the official start of the monsoon withdrawal.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies