With the south-west monsoon about to hit the Kerala coast, water level at the country’s key 91 large reservoirs on Thursday was more than the last year’s level as well as the average of the last ten years. According to data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC), with the exception of 31 reservoirs located in southern states where water table had plummeted to only 8% of their capacities, the overall water table in key reservoirs have been 22% of their capacities.
A year ago, the average water table was only 17% of their capacities in key reservoirs while the 10-year average of water table is 20% of their capacities. “The overall storage position is better than the corresponding period of last year in the country as a whole and is also better than the average storage of last ten years,” the CWC said in a statement.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has stated that the southwest monsoon (June-September) is likely to set over Kerala coast on May 30 with a model error of ± 4 days. Monsoon usually arrives over Kerala in the first week of June and then covers rest of the country in the next one month or so.
Meanwhile, private weather forecaster Skymet has said monsoon is likely to reach the Kerala coast by May 29 with an error margin of 3 days. Kerala and Karnataka, which have already received pre-monsoon showers, are expected to get good rains after the onset of monsoon.
The Skymet also stated that monsoon rains in June is likely to be widespread across south peninsula and central region while north-west regions which include UP, Punab, Haryana is likely to get less rainfall. In the first long range monsoon forecast released last month, IMD had predicted ‘normal’ rainfall this year at 96% of the benchmark long period average (LPA), with a model error of ± 5%. IMD is likely announce its second long range monsoon forecast on June 5.
The Met in its agri-advisory has urged the farmers in Kerala, Karnataka and north-eastern states to postpone irrigation, application of fertilisers and plant protection methods for standing crops as heavy rains are expected over the next couple of days. Experts say that a normal monsoon is expected to give boost to agricultural production as a majority of farm land are rainfed and boosts water reservoirs levels leading to an improvement in the supply of drinking water and higher hydel power output.
Last year, IMD had made an initial forecast of ‘above normal’ rainfall of 106% of LPA, but the actual cumulative rainfall was 97% of the LPA, which falls in ‘normal’ category. Due to normal rainfall last year, the country’s foodgrains production in the 2016-17 crop year (July-June) is estimated to reach an all-time record of 273.38 million tonne (MT), which is 8.7% more than the previous year. Due to two consecutive years of deficient monsoons (2014 & 2015), the foodgrains production went down to 252 MT in 2014-15 and 2015-16 crop years from 265 MT reported in 2013-14.