Cyclone Aila hit India’s normal monsoon pattern


New Delhi : With the monsoon set to withdraw in north-west India in mid-September, a draft report by the agriculture ministry has said the Aila cyclone that hit West Bengal and other east Indian states in May disturbed the normal monsoon pattern just after it set in and “discharged the system completely.”

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Aila tore through 13 of West Bengal’s 19 districts May 25-26, leaving a trail of destruction with houses levelled, trees uprooted, power cables snapped and 138 lives lost. Around 6.1 million people were affected.

According to the report, “The Aila cyclone in the Bay of Bengal disturbed the normal monsoon pattern just after it set in and discharged the system completely.”

“This weakened the early monsoon advance landwards and its progress towards the north was tardy,” said the report on Drought Management Strategies – 2009, prepared by the National Rainfed Area Authority under the agriculture ministry.

The report said the monsoon set in early (on May 23 instead of June 1) at the Kerala coast and it was a good start.

“Lack of clouds and rainfall, and clear sky in northern India raised air temperature during the second fortnight of June which damaged vegetables and had an adverse effect on animals, especially cross-bred cows,” the report said.

“This year, so far no ‘Westerly System’ has set in north India and a deficit of rainfall continues. The rainfall is patchy, scanty and lacks normal vigour.”

While drought hit the traditionally flood prone areas of Assam, Bihar and high rainfall areas of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, drought prone areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat had “relatively better” rainfall.

The report also said for the first time in the history of drought management, electricity and diesel (energy) are in great demand.