The water level in India’s 150 major reservoirs declined for the 20th week in a row, while the storage in the southern and northern regions declined to 40 per cent and 30 per cent of the capacity, respectively, per data from the Central Water Commission (CWC).

According to CWC’s weekly bulletin on live storage status, the major 150 reservoirs were filled to 45 per cent of the 178.784 billion cubic metres (BCM) capacity at 81.041 BCM. During the same time a year ago, the reservoirs were filled 83 per cent of the capacity and the last 10 years average is 95 per cent. 

The level in 80 of the major reservoirs is less than 50 per cent of the normal, while only two are filled to capacity. At least 12 States have storage that are lower than normal with Telangana, which had better storage until now, set to become a below normal one.

76% rainfall deficient

The situation will likely deteriorate with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting warmer than normal February. Data received from 706 districts show that 76 of them received either deficient, large deficient or no rainfall. 

The situation in the southern region, which depends on reservoirs for irrigation, has turned grim with the storage slipping to 15.923 BCM or 30 per cent of the 53.334 BCM capacity.  Of the 42 reservoirs in the region, 28 have a level below 50 per cent of the capacity. 

Among the States, only Kerala has 2 per cent more than normal storage with Karnataka (-28%), Andhra Pradesh (-49%) and Tamil Nadu (-24%) reeling from prolonged dry periods since June 2023, when El Nino set in.

In the northern region, eight of the 10 reservoirs continue to have levels lower than 50 per cent. Among the States in the regions, Punjab (-14%) and Rajasthan (-11%) have lower than normal levels. The storage in the region this week was 40 per cent of the 19.663 BCM capacity at 7.790 BCM.  

Assam double than normal

Of the 23 reservoirs in the eastern region, two are filled to capacity and 10 have levels below 50 per cent of the capacity. The region has a storage capacity of 20.430 BCM and this week, the level was 11.386 BCM or 56 per cent.

Assam continued to be the only State where the storage was more than double the normal, while Odisha (-5%), West Bengal (-10%), Nagaland (-17%) and Bihar (-57%) had below normal levels.

The level in 49 reservoirs of the western region was 55 per cent of the 37.130 BCM capacity at 20.539 BCM. The storage in 18 of them is below 50 per cent of the capacity with Maharashtra having a level that is 15 per cent lower than normal. 

 In the central region, the storage in Uttar Pradesh (-28%) and Chhattisgarh (-21%) was below normal. Of the 26 reservoirs, the level in 16 is below 50 per cent of the capacity. This week, the storage was 53 per cent of the 48.227 BCM capacity  at 25.403 BCM.

At least 26 per cent of the country is reeling under drought, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s World Drought Monitor report.