Deficiency in monsoon rains in the last two years has depleted water levels in the country’s 91-odd reservoirs. Till Thursday, water reserves were lower by almost a third compared to a year ago, while the 10-year average reserves level is 31% of the installed reservoir capacity. Only 24% of that capacity is filled up with water now, against 35% a year ago.
The depleted water storage has already affected hydro power generation. It could have an adverse impact on agriculture and drinking water supplies in 2016-17, if the next monsoon fails. According to the agriculture ministry’s second advance estimate, the country’s food grain production in 2015-16 is pegged at 253.2 million tonne (mt), compared with 252 mt in 2014-15.
According to the ministry of water resources’ data, storage in the 91 reservoirs has declined to 37.92 billion cubic metre (bcm) against 55.34 bcm a year ago. The 10-year average at this point of time is 49.43 bcm.
The water level is alarmingly low in 31 reservoirs in southern India and 27 in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
In reservoirs in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the total live storage available as on Thursday was only 8.08 bcm, 16% of the capacity. In reservoirs in Gujarat and Maharashtra, the total live storage available is 5.52 bcm or 20% of the capacity.
The Central Water Commission monitors the storage status of 91 reservoirs of which 37 have hydro power utility.
The India Meteorological Department is expected to come out with its monsoon forecast next month. In the last two years, 14% deficiency in monsoon has been witnessed against the benchmark long-period average.