Close to eight weeks into the southwest monsoon season, majority of the areas across the country have received ‘normal’ rainfall but the average water level at the country’s 91 large reservoirs remained below the last year’s level as well as average of last ten years.
This reflects ‘deficient’ rainfall in a portion of southern and eastern regions and the inability of the rains to fully replenish reservoirs. However, officials said that replenishment of reservoirs has gathered pace lately and within the next two weeks, the water table is likely to increase significantly.
Out of the 36 subdivision in the country, seven have received ‘excess’ rainfall while 26 got ‘normal’ rains so far. Only three have received ‘deficient’ rains.
In terms of area, 26% of the country fall in ‘excess’ rainfall zone, 68% has received ‘normal’ monsoon this year while 6% fall in ‘deficient’ rains zone. At present, only Kerala, south interior Karnataka and Jharkhand have received ‘deficient’ rains.
According to data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) on Thursday, even as 6 reservoirs located in northern states reported water table at 44% of their holding capacities against 33% last year, overall water levels in major reservoirs across the country have been 28% of their capacities. A year ago, the average water table was at 34% of their capacities while the 10 year average of the water table is 32%.
The water levels are particularly low in the four major reservoirs of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka — Krishna Raja Sagara-Mandya (14% now versus 41% last year), Hemavathy-Hassan (22% against 49%), Kabini-Mysore (41% against 56%) and Harangi -Kodagu (55% against 99%) districts.
“The overall storage position is less than the corresponding period of last year in the country as a whole but is less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period,” according to a CWC statement.
In the 17 reservoirs in southern regions, the water table is substantially less than last year and 10 year average period while in case of 12 reservoirs in central regions, water level is below last year level but more than last 10 year average (see table).
According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cumulative rainfall received so far across the country has been 102% of the benchmark long period average (LPA). However, northwest India has received ‘above normal’ rainfall (116%) and central India is at 109% of LPA. In case of southern peninsula, the rainfall so far has been 96% of LPA while in east & northeast region, there has been ‘below normal’ rainfall (89% of LPA). So far, rainfall has been ‘deficient’ in south interior Karnataka (74% of LPA), Kerala (77% of LPA), Tamil Nadu (82% of LPA) and Jharkhand (77% of LPA).
Out of the 36 subdivisions in the country, seven have received ‘excess’ rainfall while 26 got ‘normal’ rains while only three have received ‘deficient’ rains.
Rainfall in a range of 96-104% of LPA is treated as ‘normal’. LPA rainfall is pegged at 89 cm, on the basis of average between 1951-2000. In June, the IMD had predicted rainfall at 97% of LPA with model error of ± 5%.
Thanks to the early onset and satisfactory progress of the monsoon so far, sowing of kharif crops — rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton have commenced on a brisk note. Areas sown of key crops, except oilseeds, a week ago have been higher than the level at the same time last year, with the overall sowing at 8% higher.
Because of normal rainfall last year, the country’s food grains production in 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.