New Delhi, Apr 16 : Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday said that monsoon rains in the country are likely to be near normal this year.
"According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, we expect 2008 South Western monsoon from June to September. If you look at the weather condition of the entire country, it is going to be almost normal. It (rainfall) will be between 96 to104 per cent of the 50-year average," said Sibal.
The government would update its forecast in June. Last year, it had forecast the monsoon to be 95 percent of the average, but rains came in at 105 percent.
With only 40 percent of country's cultivable land irrigated, the monsoon plays an important role on rural output and farm incomes.