India facing higher monsoon rains than forecast: IMD

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India looks likely to receive higher monsoon rainfall than previously forecast as concern over the El Nino weather condition has eased, the chief of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Tuesday, raising prospects of higher farm and economic growth.

The IMD on April 18 forecast this year's monsoon rains at 96 percent of the 50-year average of 89 cm.

"Things have changed for the good since then," K.J. Ramesh, director general of the IMD, told Reuters in an interview.

The monsoon delivers about 70 percent of country's annual rainfall, critical for growing crops such as rice, cane, corn, cotton and soybeans because nearly half of the country's farmland lacks irrigation.

"We assessed 96 percent based on the climatological conditions up to March. Now, conditions are becoming favourable for an improvement over our April 18 estimate," Ramesh said.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology recently said there were signs of concerns easing over El Nino.

El Nino, a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that typically occurs every few years and was linked to crop damage, fires and flash floods, faded in 2016.

The establishment phase of the monsoon north of the equator has already started, and the Indian Ocean Dipole phenomenon - which counters the impact of an El Nino - will have an incremental positive effect on the Indian monsoon, Ramesh said.

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