Rain or shine, IMD has been under the weather for a long time now

IMD’s repeated failures have given a leeway to private weather monitoring companies to come up | Image - Eunice Dhivya

In July 2017, farmers in Beed district of Maharashtra, a drought-prone area in Marathwada region, filed a police complaint against the government-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) for misleading farmers with incorrect weather forecasts during the south-west monsoon.

The farmers who were largely dependent on IMD’s forecast for sowing activities even alleged that the department had “colluded” with seed and pesticide manufacturers, and had “inflated” the monsoon forecast figures.

The Beed unit of Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan, a state-level farmers’ organisation, threatened to lock up the IMD office in Pune as the department’s long range forecast of normal rainfall for the year did not turn out to be true.

Farmers who invested thousands of rupees in seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and farm labourers, were staring at long dry spells after an initial spell of rains, and it threatened the survival of kharif crops such as soybean and cotton.

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