Met predicts near-normal rains

The south west monsoon, crucial to agriculture, is likely to be near normal this year, the Meteorological Department has forecast amid hopes that good summer rains would lead to an easing in the price situation. "India Meteorological Department's long-range forecast for the 2008 southwest monsoon season (June-September) is that rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be near normal," earth sciences minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here. Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall is likely to be 99 per cent of the long period average with a model error of five per cent.