In the wake of reports of water crises from several parts of the nation as summer began, official government data says country’s 91 major reservoirs have just 17% of water out of their total capacity. Till June 7, water storage in these major reservoirs remained at 26.742 billion cubic metre (bcm), which is just 17% of the total capacity of the reservoir, data released by the Ministry Of Water Resouces, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation on Thursday stated in a PIB release.
Last year at around the same time, The Indian Express reported that the storage in these reservoirs was 35.053 bcm and according to the ministry of water resources data, storage in the 91 reservoirs was 39.65 bcm in 2016 and 57.18 bcm in 2015. The data clearly shows the criticality of water resources in the country. The country witnessed back-to-back monsoon failures in 2014 and 2015.
Region wise, the Northern region (Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan) has six reservoirs under Central Water Commission with total live storage of 18.01 bcm. The total live storage available in their six reservoirs is 2.57 bcm, which is just 14% of the total capacity. Last year the storage was 26%. Recently, certain areas of Himachal Pradesh witnessed severe water crises, including the state capital Shimla.
As far as the data for India’s Eastern region is concerned, which includes the states of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura, there are 15 reservoirs with a capacity of 18.83 bcm. These reservoirs recorded 4.02 bcm, which is just 21% of the total capacity. Last year the storage was 24%, a statement by Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation stated.
The Western region (Gujarat and Maharashtra) has 27 reserviors with a total capacity to hold 31.26 bcm. Here, just 4.39 bcm has been recorded, which is just 14% of the total capacity. Last year, 19% storage of the reservoir was recorded. This region in the country also faces draught-like situations and monsoon deficit.
The Central region of the country, which includes the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, has 12 reservoirs with a total capacity of 42.30 bcm. These reservoirs recorded 9.42 bcm, which is just 22% of the total capacity. This region witnessed sharp decline as compared to last year, when the storage was 31% of the total capacity. The draoght-ridden Bundelkhand region falls in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The Southern region that includes Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, consists of 31 reservoirs, highest for any region. The total capacity of these reservoirs is 51,59 bcm and the availability recorded is 6.34 bcm, which is 12% of the total capacity. Last year the storage was 7%, showing an increase in the water storage.
The release underlined that states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh recorded less storage than the last year’s figures. On the other hand, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Tripura, Maharashtra, Uttrakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu recorded better storage.
Meanwhile, the water of these reservoirs is used for irrigation, hydropower generation and for drinking water supply. The Monsoon season, which continues for around four months, accounts for about 75 per cent of India’s annual rainfall and it is crucial to replenish the reservoirs.
Moreover, India has recorded consecutive monsoon failures, which are very rare. Since the last century, there have been only three other such instances: in 1904 and 1905, 1965 and 1966, and 1987 and 1988. The interesting thing this time (2015), though, is that back-to-back drought — as many as 23 out of the country’s 36 meteorological subdivisions had reported rainfall deficiency exceeding 10 per cent, The Indian Express reported in 2015.
However, IMD has predicted a normal monsoon this year. IMD in April predicted this year’s southwest monsoon (April-September) to be ‘normal’, at 97% of the long-period average (LPA) of 89 cm, with a margin of error of +/- 5%. It has lined up five probable scenarios — a normal monsoon (42%), below normal (30%), deficient (14%), above normal (12%) and excess (2%).