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Monsoon seen 107 pct of normal in Aug-Sep

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s crucial monsoon rains are likely to be above normal in the remaining two months of the June-September season, the weather office said on Friday, boosting prospects of strong harvests of rice, cane and oilseeds.

A man holds his umbrella as he crosses a road during rains in New Delhi July 6, 2010. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta/Files

The La Nina weather phenomenon, which increases precipitation in south Asia, will boost rainfall in August and September, the India Meteorological Department said in a statement.

Rainfall in next two months is likely to be 107 percent of normal, it said.

“The latest model forecasts from a majority of the dynamical and statistical models indicate very high probability (about 80 percent) for the La Nina conditions to continue during the remaining part of the monsoon season,” it said.

The director general of the weather office, Ajit Tyagi, said this year, the monsoon may withdraw later than the normal date of Sept. 15, while floods in some regions cannot be ruled out.

For a graphic on weekly rainfall, click:here

“There may be floods in some areas with this kind of a forecast for the second half. But if rains are absolutely well distributed, we may not see floods at all,” Tyagi said.

A normal monsoon, after last year’s driest season in nearly four decades, will help Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to tame widely watched headline inflation, which surged to 10.55 percent in June, holding in double digits for the fifth straight month.

“This is a good forecast. It will be good for agriculture and help ease pressure on prices,” said Veeresh Hiremath, a senior analyst with Hyderabad-based brokerage Karvy Comtrade.

India’s monsoon surged in the past week to deliver its highest weekly rainfall this season, raising hopes of strong harvests in the world’s leading consumer of rice, cooking oils and sugar.

Heavy rains in the past week rapidly raised the water level in Indian reservoirs to 27 percent of capacity, up 8 percentage points in the past week, or twice the normal rate, government data showed.

The water level in the week to July 29, was still lower than the average level of 33 percent of capacity at this time of the year as the June-September monsoon was patchy and 16 percent below average until July 19.

More water in reservoirs will boost the supply of hydropower, which accounts for a quarter of India’s total generation capacity, and help irrigate crops even after the monsoon season.

Additional reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; editing by Himangshu Watts and Miral Fahmy