, NEW DELHI, Sep 23- The Indian monsoon is about 20 percent below strength just over a week before the 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."
For India’s 235 million farmers, a bad monsoon can spell financial disaster because of the lack of irrigation for the country’s fields.
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 rewww.capitalfm.co.keirs that are vital for hydropower generation and winter irrigation.
Bandopadhyay said that a deficit of 20 percent would be worse than previous droughts in 2002, 1987 and 1979 when the shortfall was about 19 percent.
In 1972, the deficit measured 23.9 percent, he said.
The monsoon period in India runs from June to the end of September, though late rains have been experienced in October.