New Delhi: Water levels in India’s 91 major reservoirs were at 41% of their storage capacity, the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
The water level saw a 3 percentage point dip for the week ending 2 March to 64.55 billion cubic metre (BCM), as compared to these reservoirs being at 44% of their storage capacity for the week ending 23 February. These 91 reservoirs monitored by the Central Water Commission have a storage capacity of 157.799 BCM.
This comes at a time when India is expected to experience a hotter-than-normal summer this year according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Also, 2016 has been the warmest year on record since 1901, according to IMD.
Some areas of the country have been declared drought affected in 2016, including parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. India faced back-to-back droughts in 2014 and 2015, which was followed by a normal monsoon in 2016.
While the storage level was higher in the reservoirs of eastern region (63% of their storage capacity), western region (54%) and central region (54%); it was down to 20% of the storage capacity for the 31 reservoirs in the southern region, according to the statement.
Also, the water level at six reservoirs in the northern region was at 29% of their storage capacity. In comparison, the water level was at 22% and 31% of the storage capacity in the northern and southern region reservoirs respectively in the corresponding period last year.
“The level of March 02, 2017 was 132% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 102% of storage of average of last ten years," the government statement added.
States such as Kerala are reeling under its worst drought in a century, turning farmlands and drinking water pipelines dry. Already, an estimated 30,353 hectares of agricultural land has been damaged as reported by Mint.
Karnataka is also going through its second straight drought year, with the government declaring a majority of the talukas as drought-affected.
While rising temperatures are expected to bring respite for electricity producers by improving demand, a dip in reservoir levels may impact electricity generation at reservoir-based thermal power plants. Water is used to generate steam to spin turbines and also as a coolant.
Of India’s installed power generation capacity of 3,14,642 mega watt (MW), 60% or 1,88,488 MW is fuelled by coal. India’s reservoirs are estimated to have a storage capacity of 253.388 BCM of water.
IMD has also predicted weak El Nino conditions—associated with the warming of the Pacific Ocean which leads to drought in India, at the end of September. However, the September onset of El Nino condition may not impact the south-west monsoon.