The storage level in India’s 150 major reservoirs declined for the 33rd consecutive week on Friday despite various parts of the country receiving widespread pre-monsoon showers, data from the Central Water Commission (CWC) showed.

The storage in 126 of the reservoirs was below 40 per cent of the capacity and in 13 it was below 50 per cent, CWC’s Weekly Bulletin on live storage status of 150 reservoirs said.

As per the bulletin, the storage was 43.293 billion cubic metres (BCM) of the 178.784 BCM capacity. During the same period a year ago, the level was 79 per cent. Over the past 10 years, it was 95 per cent. 

El Nino impact

The main reason for the lower water level in the reservoirs is deficient rainfall since July last year after the emergence of El Nino, which leads to drought and prolonged dry periods in India.

The prolonged dry period has resulted in even groundwater dropping alarmingly in cities such as Bangalore and parts of Andhra and Telangana. However, experts say that a couple of good showers can help improve groundwater levels. 

The situation in South India remained unchanged from last week, but it continues to be precarious. Of the 42 reservoirs in the region, the level in 41 was below 50 per cent of the capacity. 

5 Indian reservoirs go dry

The level this week was 7.455 BCM or 14 per cent of the 53.334 BCM.  In Andhra Pradesh, the storage was 81 per cent below normal and 50 per cent lower than usual in Tamil Nadu. In Karnataka, the storage was 23 per cent below normal.

Five of the seven reservoirs that have run dry in the country are from the southern region — 1 each in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, two in Telangana, and one in the region common for Telangana and Andhra. The other two reservoirs that have gone dry are in Maharashtra and Uttarakhand. 

A cyclone threat for the Bengal coast, which has resulted in heavy rains in some of the regions in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, may help improve the storage levels over the next few days.

IMD forecast

With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting monsoon arriving on May 31, there could be a further rise in the storage. 

In the northern region’s 10 reservoirs, the storage was 28 per cent of the 19.663 BCM capacity at 5.554 BCM. In Punjab, the level was 28 per cent lower than usual, while it was 8 per cent below normal in Rajasthan.  

In the 23 reservoirs of the eastern region, the storage was 29 per cent of the 20.430 BCM capacity at 6.013 BCM capacity. In Bihar, where its sole reservoir went dry a couple of weeks ago, the level was 45 per cent below normal with the Chandan Dam storage now being 12 per cent of the capacity. In West Bengal, the storage was 26 per cent lower than usual.

In the western region, the storage was 25 per cent of the 37.130 BCM capacity at 9.400 BCM. While the level in Gujarat was 22 per cent above normal, it was 14 per cent lower than usual in Maharashtra. 

In the 26 reservoirs of the central region, the level was 33 per cent of the 48.227 BCM capacity at 15.938 BCM. In Chhattisgarh, the storage was 32 per cent below normal and in Uttar Pradesh, it was 20 per cent lower than usual.