Even as IMD had projected a revival of monsoon in southern India in the current week, Kerala, the usual gateway of southwest monsoon, has been facing a deficit of 27% rainfall during the monsoon season, beginning in June. This is on the top of a disappointing SW monsoon and a near-absent northwest monsoon in 2016. A worried state government has announced in the Assembly on Friday that the rainfall deficiency was as high as 27%. This is in the period between July 9 and August 9, said Kerala water resources minister Mathew T Thomas. As the state is mostly reliant on hydel projects for power needs, the fall in water levels in reservoirs is also alarming. “The shortfall was 10 metre lower, compared to the water level in the key reservoirs,” said the minister. Wayanad, with a 59% deficit, and Idukki, with a deficit of 35%, are the worst hit. The storage level in the reservoir in Idukki hydro-electric power, one of the top power producer in the state, has fallen to 32% of its capacity.
The most disturbing aspect is that the impact of the rain-shortage is not merely local. The shortage of rain in one state could affect the neighbouring geographies too, especially with a monsoon deficit in successive years. “The weak monsoon in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and southern Karnataka could leave lasting impact on the water and power management in the neighboring States,” KN Harilal, member, Kerala State Planning Board, told FE.
The catchment area of Karnataka’s Kabani river is Wayanad in Kerala while Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala supplies water to Tamil Nadu’s farm districts in the south. So does Parambikulam dam in Kerala that feeds the region around Coimbatore. “Continued drought-like situation needs deeper analysis. We have to go for climate change adoption process, realistically, rather than mourn the shortage of rain” said Sekhar Kuriakose, secretary, State Disaster Management Authority.
Last week, taking cognizance of the gravity of the impending crisis, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan had, through a tweet, appealed to the people to reduce water wastage and maximise water resources. Kerala government has also pulled up its socks on three task forces, one on rainwater harvesting and conservation, the second on repair of check-dams and regulators and the third on the restoration of canals and ponds.