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Sharp fall in rains bodes ill for Kerala

Grim scenario awaits state's economy, especially the power sector, which relies heavily on hydel sources

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With recording a deficiency of nearly 40% rainfall since the onset of south west monsoon, a grim scenario awaits the state's economy, especially its power sector which relies heavily on hydel sources.

Though the state agencies are yet to assess the fallout of scanty on agricultural front, danger signals have already started emanating from the energy front.

According to Indian Meteorological Department here, the rainfall received by the state has been deficient by 39% since June 1. The state received only 75 cm of rainfall till today against the normal 123 cm it should have received from June first week.

According to Electricity Minister Aryadan Muhammad, the storage level in reservoirs have come down to 16.43% of their capacity by last week as against 40.61% during the corresponding period last year.

This showed that the storage, kept up by abundant rainfall brought by the monsoon in the catchment areas, is 24.18% less than last year.

As per the estimates of the Kerala State Electricity Board, the inflow into reservoirs since June first week has been equivalent to 733 million units, far short of 1702 million units last year.

According to energy experts, unless there is a dramatic change in the situation in the coming days, the state would be forced to tap heavily on outside sources to meet the demand incurring additional costs, part of which to be passed on to the consumers.

account for the lion's share of 2040.8 MW of power generated in the state out of its total installed capacity of 2857.59 MW. Even now, there is a demand- supply gap, which is met by drawals from the central grid and other outside sources.

This would compel the state to take tough decisions against its decades-long policy of providing affordable electricity to all sections of the society.

As a consumer state, shortfall in rains in other parts of the country could also bode ill for Kerala which depends heavily on neighbours like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh for its staple rice, and other basic provisions.

Possible fall in production due to failed monsoon in these states could also upset the market-intervention schemes of Kerala's food and civil supplies agencies.

This has already become a cause of worry since the "Onam" festival and Eid-ul-Fitr are falling side-by-side in August.

It has been a long practice for the state and co-operative agencies to open a string of fair price stalls selling essentials and vegetables at subsidised price, as a mechanism to control open market prices to a great extent.

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