Mumbai: Depleting water levels, worsened by rising temperatures, may force government to divert farm water for drinking and power generation ahead of the four-month monsoon season that begins in June, a senior water department official told Reuters late on Thursday.
“Drinking water first and only after that other priorities come...till monsoon rain starts we have to manage with existing availability of water,” AK Bajaj, chairman, Central Water Commission (CWC), told Reuters in a telephone interview.
In March, and April so far, temperatures over most parts of the country have been significantly higher than normal temperature, data with India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed.
Of the 20 areas where the IMD monitors temperature in the country, maximum temperatures in March surpassed the record in seven cities and within one degree of the record in eight others, data from the IMD shows.
Higher temperature after a year of drought will accelerate the evaporation rate and deplete India’s major water reservoirs, forcing the government to cut agriculture supply, Bajaj said.
Of the 21 reservoirs in northern and eastern India whose levels are monitored by CWC, 20 have filled below 40% of their live capacities, while one holds less than half, suggesting severe shortage, data from CWC shows.
The weather office, which will issue its forecast on Friday evening s widely expected to predict improved rainfall after last year’s failed monsoon rains, which were the worst in 37 years and had led to high food inflation.