NEW DELHI — India's monsoon was about 20 percent below strength just over a week before the official end of the rainy reason, putting the country on course for its worst drought since 1972, weather data showed Wednesday.
"Until September 21, for the country as a whole, the rain deficiency was 22 percent," said B.K. Bandopadhyay, a spokesman for the weather office.
"We expect the total rain deficiency will be roughly about 20 percent (at the end of the monsoon season). It depends on the rainfall, but it seems it will be around this number," he added.
Low rainfall early in the monsoon period ravaged India's rice, cane sugar and groundnut crops, and has disrupted the flow of water into the main reservoirs that are vital for hydropower generation and winter irrigation.
The drought is expected to dampen India's economic growth this year and has sent food prices rocketing, leading to huge hardship for India's poor masses.
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