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Business News/ News / India/  Water level in reservoirs shrinks to 30% of storage capacity
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Water level in reservoirs shrinks to 30% of storage capacity

Eastern and southern India are seeing water levels depleting rapidly owing to severe heatwave with 26 reservoirs having 50% of normal storage capacity

The depleting water level could be attributed to lower rainfall and scorching summer caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. (Image: Pixabay)Premium
The depleting water level could be attributed to lower rainfall and scorching summer caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. (Image: Pixabay)

NEW DELHI:Water level in India’s 150 major reservoirs fell to 30% of their total storage capacity, with eastern and southern India seeing levels depleting rapidly owing to severe heatwave.

While 26 reservoirs have 50% of normal water storage capacity, the level in reservoirs of eastern and southern regions has dropped to as low as 39% and 17%, respectively, as per the bulletin released by the Central Water Commission on Thursday.

Southern states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have been facing significant shortfalls in water storage with cities like Bengaluru grappling with severe water crises.

The depleting water level could be attributed to lower rainfall and scorching summer caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, (which finally ended on 16 April as per the Australian Bureau of Meteorology), resulting in insufficient rainfall in India, and leading to water scarcity in some regions, besides droughts and prolonged dry periods across Asia.

As many as 18 states in the country have witnessed rain deficiency or no rainfall since March. The country has received 15% below-normal rainfall since March, as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Also Read: IMD proposes, will weather gods dispose? Here’s a data check.

According to data from the Central Water Commission (CWC), the available water level this week in these reservoirs was 53.358 billion cubic meter (BCM), 17.6% lower than the corresponding period last year when it was 64.775 BCM and nearly 4% lower than the average of last 10 years (55.523 BCM). 

The live storage available in 150 reservoirs as of Thursday was 82% of the live storage of the corresponding period of the previous year and 96% of storage of average of the past 10 years.

Shooting mercury

The weather bureau last month warned that most regions of the country will witness above-normal temperature during April-June. This prediction, coupled with drying water reservoirs, has prompted agriculture economists to warn of an adverse impact on the current rabi crop, especially in southern regions, as well as summer crops in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The temperature in east and south India have been hovering in the range of 42.2℃-43.7℃, according to the weather bureau. Severe heatwave is likely to prevail over East and south Peninsular India until Monday. However, northwest India is expected to get a relief from sweltering heat with a likely fresh spell of rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms or lightning and gusty winds between Friday and Sunday, it said on Thursday.

In a major relief, India will likely receive above-normal monsoon rainfall at 106% of long-period average (87 cm) this year with the El Nino weather phenomenon turning neutral, and benign La Nina conditions setting in by August-September, the IMD predicted.

The monsoon season is crucial for India as it delivers nearly 70% of its annual rainfall. Nearly half of India’s arable land doesn’t have access to irrigation and depends on these rains to grow crops such as rice, corn, cane, cotton and soybean. Agriculture accounts for about 14% of the country’s GDP. About 56% of the net cultivated area is rain-fed, accounting for 44% of food production.

Normal rainfall leads to robust crop production, helping keep a lid on food prices, including vegetables.

Due to El Nino, India’s foodgrain production is estimated to be 6.1% lower in the 2023-24 crop year (July-June) at 309 million tonnes, according to the second advance estimates issued by the agriculture and farmers’ welfare ministry in February.

The situation in southern regions is worrying as the storage in the 42 reservoirs dropped to 17% of the 53.334 BCM capacity at 8.865 BCM. During the same period a year ago, the level was 29% of the capacity and 22% of the 10 year average, as per the CWC’s latest bulletin issued on Thursday.

As far as the eastern region is concerned, the water level in 23 reservoirs across Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Tripura, Nagaland and Bihar fell further to 7.889 BCM, 39% of total live storage capacity of 20.430 BCM, while that of 49 reservoirs in the western region was down to 11.771 BCM, 31.7% of total live storage capacity of f 37.130 BCM.

The available water level in key reservoirs of east India a year ago was 34% and the average storage of the last ten years during corresponding period was 34%. The water level in west Indian reservoirs last year during the same time was 38% and average storage for the last ten years during corresponding period was 32.1% of live storage capacity.

Water availability in the 26 reservoirs of the central region was at 18.570 BCM, 39% of the total live storage capacity of 48.227 BCM. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 43% and average storage of the last ten years during corresponding period was 37%.

For the northern region, available water in the 10 reservoirs was at 6.263 BCM, 32% of total live storage capacity of 19.663 BCM. The storage during the corresponding period last year was 38% and the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period was 33%.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 25 Apr 2024, 08:05 PM IST
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