The water level in the 150 major Indian reservoirs continued to decline for the 16th consecutive week with the situation in the North adding to the concerns raised by dropping storage in the South.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu were the only States to receive rainfall in the past week with a major part of the country going dry. According to the India Meteorological Department, three-fourths of the 711 districts that provide weather data received deficient, large deficient or no rainfall since the beginning of 2024.

This has compounded the reservoir situation with the monsoon and post-monsoon seasons also receiving deficient rainfall. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information of the US,  at least 25 per cent of the country was under drought in December.

Lack of snowfall

In its weekly bulletin on live storage status, the Central Water Commission (CWC) data showed that the storage in the major 150 reservoirs this week was 53 per cent of the 178.784 billion cubic metres (BCM) at  95.326 BCM.

During the same time a year ago, the storage was 82 per cent of the capacity and the last 10 years average is 95 per cent. Barring the eastern region where three reservoirs are filled to capacity, the water level is below 50 per cent of the capacity in 58. 

As there is no western disturbance in the Himalayas, there has been no snowfall yet. This raises further concerns since horticulture, pulses, groundnut and paddy are grown as summer or zaid crops. 

According to SK Chaudhary, Founder-Director of Safex Chemicals, the production of apples could be affected badly. 

AP level -55%

Per CWC data, the storage in the 10 northern region reservoirs was 9.611 BCM, which is 48.9 per cent (51.3 per cent last week) of the 19.663 BCM capacity. The level in four of the reservoirs was below 50 per cent of the capacity, and it was below 60 per cent in another four. 

No reservoir was filled above 90 per cent of the capacity. In Punjab, the storage was 34 per cent below normal. 

In the southern region, the storage in 22 of the 42 reservoirs was below 50 per cent of capacity. The water level was 36 per cent (37 per cent) of the 53.334 BCM capacity at 18.999 BCM. 

The situation in Andhra Pradesh was 55 per cent below normal, while it was 34 per cent below normal in Karnataka and 13 per cent lower in Tamil Nadu, where it improved from a negative 16 per cent. The level in Metter (Stanley) reservoir, which serves the Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu,  was 74 per cent of the capacity against 69 per cent a week ago. 

In the 26 reservoirs in the central region, the level was 61 per cent (64 per cent) of the 48.227 BCM capacity at 29.430 BCM. The storage in 13 of them was below 50 per cent, while barring one the situation in the rest was 70 per cent below the capacity. 

Set to turn grim?

Uttar Pradesh’s reservoirs were filled 28 per cent below normal and in Chhattisgarh it was 20 per cent below. 

In the eastern region, the storage in 7 of the 23 reservoirs was below 50 per cent the capacity. Assam has water over one-and-a-half times the normal, while it was lower than usual in West Bengal, Nagaland, Tripura and Bihar.  CWC data showed that the level was 63.5 per cent (66 per cent) of the  20.430 BCM live storage at 12.968 BCM. 

In the western region, the level in Maharashtra slipped to 10 per cent from 9 per cent last week, while it improved to 36 per cent above normal in Gujarat from 33 per cent. None of the 49 reservoirs was full and 12 of them were filled below 50 per cent of the capacity. 

Overall, the storage in the region was 65 per cent (67 per cent) of the 37.130 BCM capacity at 24.318 BCM. With various global models predicting a warm February and March in view of the impact of El Nino, the situation could further turn grim.