Two successive years of monsoon deficit have depleted water levels in the country’s 91 major reservoirs. Till Thursday, the water reserves were lower than a year ago by almost a third — while the 10-year average reserves level is 30% of the installed reservoir capacity, only 23% of that capacity is filled up with water now, as against 34% a year ago.
The depleted water storage has already impacted hydro power production. It could have an adverse impact on agriculture and drinking water supplies during the next few weeks as monsoon is expected to hit Kerala coast only by early June.
According to the agriculture ministry’s second advance estimate, the country’s foodgrain production in 2015-16 is pegged at 253.2 million tonne, compared with 252 Mt in 2014-15.
As per the ministry of water resources data, storage in the 91 reservoirs has declined to 35.83 billion cubic metres (bcm) against 53.48 bcm a year ago. The 10-year average at this point of time is 46.72 bcm.
The water level is the lowest in 31 reservoirs in southern India and 27 in Gujarat and Maharashtra. In reservoirs in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the total live storage available was only 7.55 bcm, 15% of the capacity. In reservoirs in Gujarat and Maharashtra, the total live storage available is 4.79 bcm or 18% of the capacity.
The Central Water Commission monitors storage status of the 91 reservoirs of which 37 have hydro power utility.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) earlier this week predicted ‘above normal’ rainfall this year at 106% of the benchmark Long Period Average (LPA), with a model error of ± 5%.
“There is a 94% probability that southwest monsoon will be above normal to excess. There is just 6% chance of monsoon being poor,” LS Rathore, director general, IMD, said.