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India rains 44 pct above normal in past week - Met

NEW DELHI, Sept 23 (Reuters) -India’s monsoon rains were 44 percent above normal in the week to Sept. 22, the weather office said on Thursday, adding to concerns of a late withdrawal of the seasonal downpour from rice and cane growing northwest India.

Rains had exceeded averages by 19 percent in the previous week.

Cane-growing western parts of Uttar Pradesh had rains 316 percent above normal in the week, the data showed. Severe flooding has already left around 2 million homeless and prompted the state government to reduce expectations for growth in sugar output. [ID:nSGE68M039]

In the cotton and rice producing Punjab, rains were 3 percent over averages for the week ending Sept. 22, the India Meteorological Department said on its website.

The Meteorological Department is expecting the monsoon to withdraw from northwestern regions by the first week of October, its director-general Ajit Tyagi told Reuters on Thursday. [ID:nDEL003446] (Reporting by Ratnajyoti Dutta; editing by Jo Winterbottom)