The heavy monsoon rains that lashed the Indian subcontinent a month ahead of schedule have resulted in the death of at least 10 people in the north Indian hill state of Uttarakhand, one of the worst-hit states, according to BBC.
The deaths were caused by flooding and landslides, and the toll is expected to increase, a senior official told BBC. And, thousands of people who were on their way to Kedarnath valley, a popular pilgrimage spot, were stranded when a bridge was washed away on Sunday.
But elsewhere, the early onset of the monsoon, which usually covers the whole of India by mid-July and lasts for four months, has brought in a ray of hope for farmers who expect to have a good output of summer-sown crops such as rice and cotton.
"An early sowing of summer crops like rice, cane, soybean, corn and cotton will give them more time to mature and lead to higher yields," Prasoon Mathur, senior analyst at Delhi-based brokerage Religare Commodities, told Reuters.
The monsoon is crucial for the country's farm sector, which accounts for about 15 percent of India's near $2-trillion economy, Asia's third-biggest, according to a Reuters report. About 55 percent of the country’s arable land is also rain-fed, and is expected to hold down inflation, the report noted.
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Lower inflation would be a much-needed relief for India, which has suffered from runaway inflation and a slowing economy in recent years.
Early showers are also expected to soften the soil in drought-hit areas such as Maharashtra, one of India’s major cane-growing states.
An Indian Meteorological Department official told Reuters that the showers that covered the nation on June 16 were the earliest such occurrence on record. “We expected an early coverage, but not so fast," said the official, who did not want to be named.
The official added that the current spell is expected to last through this week, and will slow down early next week.