Monsoon in India: Rains boost water level at reservoirs even though South stays a concern

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Published: July 28, 2017 1:51:55 AM

With rainfall in excess of 22% of the benchmark long period average (LPA) in the last week (July 20-26), the average water table in these reservoirs has been more than the level a year ago as well as average of last 10 years during this time of the year.

Monsoon in India, Rains boost water level, reservoirs, reservoirs in india, LPA, kharif crop sowing, kharif crop, hydel power, Central Water Commission, India Meteorological Department, LPA rainfall, rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oilseeds, sugarcane, foodgrains productionThe rise in water levels has allayed the concerns of water deficiency hitting kharif crop sowing. (Image: PTI)

Widespread monsoon rains, except in a few pockets of southern India, have given a boost to the water levels at the country’s 91 key reservoirs. With rainfall in excess of 22% of the benchmark long period average (LPA) in the last week (July 20-26), the average water table in these reservoirs has been more than the level a year ago as well as average of last 10 years during this time of the year. The rise in water levels has allayed the concerns of water deficiency hitting kharif crop sowing (which is now up 2% from last year), drinking water availability and hydel power. According to data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) on Thursday, while 31 reservoirs located in southern states where water table has reported at 25% of holding capacities against 30 % last year, overall water table in key reservoirs across the country have been 39% of their capacities. A year back the average water table was 37 % of their capacities while 10 year average of water table is 38 % 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 during the corresponding period,” according to a statement by CWC. According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cumulative rainfall received so far across the country has been 104% of the LPA. However, the north-west India has received ‘excess’ rainfall of 118% and central India has a share of 113% of LPA. In case of southern peninsula, the rainfall so far has been 85% of LPA while only in east & north-east region, there has been ‘below normal’ rainfall at 95% of LPA.

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.
Out of the 36 sub-divisions in the country, eight have received ‘excess’ rainfall while 24 got ‘normal’ rains so far while only four have received ‘deficient’ rains. In terms of area, 31% of the country falls in ‘excess’ rainfall zone while 58% received ‘normal’ monsoon this year while 11% of areas fall in ‘deficient’ rainfall zones.

At present, only Kerala, south interior Karnataka and Jharkhand have received ‘deficient’ rainfall. Last month, the met department predicted that monsoon season (June-September) rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be 98% of the (LPA) with a model error of ±4%, while the heartening factor is that the showers in July, which has 33% share in overall monsoon rains would be 96% of its LPA. August which has share of 29% in overall monsoon rains is expected to receive shower at 99% of LPA.

Thanks to the normal monsoon rains sowing of kharif crops — rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton is progressing well.
Areas sown of key crops, except oilseeds, have been higher than the level at the same time last year, with the overall sowing 2% higher. Till last week, around 64% of the sowing is done and it would continue till middle of next month. Analysts say that unless the monsoon takes a break over the next two weeks, the kharif output is likely be robust.

Because of normal rainfall last year, the country’s foodgrains 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.

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