With about 40 percent rainfall deficit in June due to the late and sluggish southwest monsoon, parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana continue to reel under drought-like conditions.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the rainfall deficit in Andhra Pradesh for the month of June is 43.6 percent and the same in Telangana is 35 percent.
Farmers in both the states were a worried lot as sowing operations were yet to start even a month after the beginning of crop season. The water levels in major reservoirs, which hit dead storage due to a severe and long summer, were yet to receive significant inflows.
The southwest monsoon set in both the Telugu states on June 21 as against its normal arrival in the first week of June.
The monsoon arrived at Kerala coast on June 8, a delay of a week. Subsequently its progress was sluggish. Cyclone Vayu, which developed in the Arabian Sea, further delayed the monsoon.
The farmers, who usually take up sowing operations in the first week of June, were yet to start farm activity in more than 90 percent of the cultivable land in both the states. There were hardly any rains in most parts of the states during last 10 days.
There is drought-like situation in 385 out of 589 'mandals' or blocks in Telangana, which received 86.2 mm rainfall against normal of 132 mm during June.
Officials say this is the worst situation in five years. The deficit was 54.2 percent for June 2014.
There was excess rainfall during June last year, when the state had received 150.3 mm rainfall.
The rainfall deficit is more than 35 percent in 16 out of 33 districts in Telangana. With 73 percent shortfall, Khammam received the lowest rainfall in both the states.
As many as 20 districts had rainfall deficit of more than 20 percent. There were 155 'mandals' with a deficit between 60 to 99 percent.
The situation in Andhra Pradesh is worse. It has been a month since the kharif crop season season started but sowing of seeds could be taken up in only four percent of the cultivable land.
The long dry spell has already led to drinking water scarcity in many towns in Andhra Pradesh. Towns like Vizianagaram, Ongole, Giddaluru and Kadapa are getting piped drinking water once in four to five days.
There is a shortfall of 453 million litres of drinking water in urban areas every day.
The underground water table has also depleted by an average of 2.8 metres. In Rayalaseema, known for recurrent droughts, the underground water had depleted by 7.26 metres. Borewells dug up to even 150 feet have dried up.
The groundwater table in Telangana has witnessed sharp fall. The average water level during May dropped to 14.56 Metres Below Ground Level (MBGL) from 12.73 MBGL during the same period last year.
The officials are pinning their hopes on forecast of good rainfall in coming days. Telangana's Principal Secretary, Agriculture, C. Parthasarthi, hopes that kharif operations would pick up in next one or two weeks as he expects adequate rainfall in coming days.
The IMD has forecast heavy rain in parts of both the Telugu states over next two days.
It said rain occurred at many places since Sunday with the rainfall amount being between one to five cm.
Y K Reddy, director, IMD Hyderabad, said it was already predicted that the rainfall during June will remain below normal. He, however, said the overall seasonal rainfall was expected to be close to normal.
The IMD expects the rainfall for the entire season to be 97 percent of Long Period Average (LPA) during southwest monsoon season, which continues till September. The LPA for Telangana is 755 mm and for Andhra Pradesh 912 mm.
"The delay in monsoon may not have impact on overall rainfall for the season as the shortfall in June is likely to be made up in July and August," said Reddy.