Just a couple of days after the onset of the southwest monsoon over the Kerala coast, the water level at the country’s key 91 large reservoirs stood higher than last year’s level, as well as average of the last 10 years.
According to data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) on Thursday, with the exception of 31 reservoirs located in the southern states where the water table had plummeted to only 8% of their capacities, the overall water tables in key reservoirs across the country have been 21% of their capacities. A year back, the average water table was only 16% of its capacities in key reservoirs while the 10-year average 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 10 years,” CWC said in a statement. Officials say that with the progress of the monsoon, the water level in reservoirs is expected to rise, thus ensuring sufficient water for drinking and irrigation purposes.
The CWC statement said that of 91 reservoirs, 45 reported more than 80% of normal storage and 46 reservoirs reported 80% or below of normal storage. Of the 46 reservoirs that reported below-normal storage, 33 have water level up to 50% of the normal storage. The Ganga, Sabarmati, Mahi, Narmada ,Tapi and Mahanadi basins reported better-than-normal water level now, while the Cauvery and Krishna basins reported highly-deficient water levels.
The southwest monsoon had hit the Kerala coast on Tuesday, which is a couple of days earlier than the usual arrival in the first week of June, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had stated. In the first long-range monsoon forecast released in April, 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.
Experts say that a normal monsoon is expected to give a boost to agricultural production as a majority of farm land is rainfed and boosts water reservoirs levels, leading to improvement in the supplies of drinking water and higher hydel power output.
Last year, the 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 the ‘normal’ category.
Because of normal rainfall last year, the country’s foodgrain 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 and 2015), foodgrain production went down to 252 mt in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 crop years, from 265 mt reported in 2013-14.