It’s getting worse. Scanty rains since the first week of June?which is now being estimated to be around 51% below normal for the week to June 17 and higher from 39% for the week to June 10?has pushed the water storage level in main reservoirs across the country to a critical point. Many experts believe if rains don?t start within the next few weeks, it could create a shortage not only for agricultural lands but also for many urban centres that partly depend on these reservoirs for water.
Till June 10, as many as 27 metereolgical sub-divisions in the country received scanty or below normal rains. By June 17, one more sub-division joined this list.
The latest data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) shows the storage level in 81 reservoirs across the country is just around 15.068 billion cubic centimeters (BCM), against the full reservoir level of 151.768 BCM, or just around 10%. Last year during the same time, water storage level in the main 81 reservoirs were almost double at around 30.235 BCM.
A close look at prominent reservoirs across the country drives home the situation more acutely. In the eastern region, major reservoirs like Konar and Tilaiya in Jharkhand are at 20% and 8% of the live capacity, at full reservoir levels (FRL), while last year in Tilaiya alone water storage levels were around 18% of FRL. In Orissa, one of the biggest paddy growing states, water storage levels in Upper Indravati and Upper Kolab is around 2% and 3% of FRL till June 17, while last year during the same period, storage levels were around 4% and 9%, respectively. In Mayurakshi and Kangsabati reservoirs of West Bengal, which till now has received 66% below normal rains, storage levels have dropped to 10% of FRL, as against last year?s level of around 15%.
The worst hit are the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, which, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD), has received 95% and 67% below normal rains till June 17.
Storage levels in the Sabarmati reservoir of Gujarat, which feeds large tracts of groundnut-growing areas in the state, have dropped to 6% of FRL, while during the same period last year it was around 27%. Similarly, in Koyna and Pench reservoirs of Maharashtra, water storage levels till June 18 have been around 34% of FRL and 3% of FRL, which last year in Pench alone were around 14% of FRL.
In the central region states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which till now have received 85%, 92% and 91% below normal rains, the storage levels in main reservoirs are more alarming. In Madhya Pradesh?s Gandhi Sagar reservoir, storage level till June 18 was just around 4% of FRL, which last year during the same time was around 11% of FRL. In the southern states; the situation is more or less the same as elsewhere, barring some reservoirs in Kerala, which received monsoon showers ahead of the due date.
In the Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir of Andhra Pradesh, the reservoir level is around 12% of FRL, while last year during the same time the reservoir had 48% of FRL. The Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir in Karnataka had 35% more water last year; the state received 33% less rainfall in its coastal areas this year. In Tamil Nadu, the Mettur reservoir has 41% less water than last year, while in Kerala, the storage level in its main Idukki reservoir is 4% more than last year.