India’s 150 major reservoirs now have storage that is only one-fourth of their capacity even as the water level declined for the 32nd week in a row this week, data from the Central Water Commission showed.

The levels in northern and western regions dropped below 30 per cent, while plunging to below 15 per cent of the capacity in the southern region. The development comes even as pre-monsoon rains have begun to lash across many parts of the country. 

The emergence of El Nino from June 2023 led to prolonged dry period and deficient rains during north-east and south-west monsoon in the country. Besides reservoirs level dropping, ground water level has also slipped.

According to CWC’s weekly bulletin on live storage status of 150 reservoirs in the country, the water level this week was 25 per cent of the 178.784 BCM capacity at 45.277 BCM.

Below 40% of capacity in 120 storages

During the same period a year ago, the storage was 57.993 BCM and the average storage over the past 10 years is 49.074 BCM. Of the 150 major reservoirs, 120 or 80 per cent had a storage level that was lower than 40 per cent of the capacity. Overall, the level in 90 per cent of the major reservoirs is below 50 per cent of the capacity. 

While Bihar’s sole reservoir went dry last week, this week Uttarakhand’s Nanak Sagar went dry. Besides five other reservoirs in the southern region are bereft of any water. 

With the storage in 41 of the 42 reservoirs in the southern region below 50 per cent of the capacity, the level dropped to 14 per cent of the 53.334 BCM capacity at 7.494 BCM. 

Among the southern States, the level in Andhra Pradesh, where the storage is 81 per cent lower than usual, has dropped to 6 per cent of the capacity, followed by Tamil Nadu (49% below normal and 17 per cent capacity) and Karnataka (26% lower than normal and 14 per cent capacity).

AP situation critical

For reservoirs that provide water to Telangana and Andhra, the level is down to 7 per cent of the capacity (29% below usual level). Nagarjuna Sagar (Telangana and AP), Yeluru (AP), Priyadarshini Jurala, Kaddam (both Telangana) and Tattihalla (Karnataka) have run dry. 

The level in the 49 reservoirs of western region slipped to 26.1 per cent of the 37.130 BCM capacity at 9.696 BCM. In the northern region’s 10 reservoirs, the storage was 29 per cent or 5.618 BCM of the 19.663 BCM capacity.

The storage in Maharashtra was 18 per cent below normal with levels down to 21 per cent of the capacity. In the northern region, the storage in Punjab was 27 per cent lower than usual (38% of capacity), while it was below normal by 6 per cent in Himachal and 7 per cent in Rajasthan. 

Ray of hope

In the central region, the level in the 26 reservoirs declined to 33 per cent of the 48.227 BCM capacity at 15.938 BCM and in the eastern region’s 23 reservoirs, the storage was 31.97 per cent of the  20.430 BCM capacity at 6.531 BCM.

Among States in the central region, the level in Chhattisgarh was 30 per cent lower than normal and 17 per cent in Uttar Pradesh. In the eastern region, the storage in West Bengal was 21 per cent below usual. 

However, agriculture experts say one good downpour will help recharge groundwater. The India Meteorological Department on Wednesday said the south-west monsoon will likely set in on May 31, one day ahead of the usual schedule. This has brought a glimmer of hope for farmers and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.