The storage in the major 150 Indian reservoirs dropped below 50 per cent of the capacity with the water level dropping for the 18th week in a row, data from the Central Water Commission (CWC) showed on Thursday.

According to CWC’s weekly bulletin on live storage status of the 150 reservoirs, the storage was 87.9 billion cubic metres (BCM), which is 49 per cent of the 178.784 BCM capacity.  

The level was 81 per cent in the same period a year ago and the last 10 year’s average is 94 per cent. More disconcertingly, the storage in the northern region slipped to 45 per cent of the capacity, while it continues to be below 35 per cent in the southern region. 

Just 3 are full

The water level in 48 per cent or 72 reservoirs of the 150 have a storage less than 50 per cent of capacity. In another 23, the storage is between 51 and 60 cent, while only three – all in the eastern region – are filled to capacity. 

One of the reasons for the sharp drop in the reservoirs’ level is that since January 1, 65 per cent of the 711 districts from where the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has received data received either deficient, large deficient or no rainfall. 

This is apart from 26 per cent of the country reeling under drought conditions till December 2023. The setting in of the El Nino warm ocean water phenomenon has affected Indian weather, particularly leading to lack of rainfall. 

Across the country, 12 States continue to have less than normal storage with Andhra Pradesh topping with water level being 56 per cent lower. Bihar was next with a 53 per cent lower level and Karnataka (-31 per cent). 

Precarious North, South

In the southern region, 24 of the 42 reservoirs have a level that is less than 50 per cent with the storage in Tamil Nadu being 15 per cent below normal. The level this week was 17.377 BCM or 33 per cent (34 per cent last week) of the 53.334 BCM capacity. 

In the northern region, eight of the 10 have a level lower than 50 per cent of the capacity. Only one has a storage higher than 80 per cent. In Punjab, the storage is lower than normal by 29 per cent (-31 per cent). The level in the region was 8.789 BCM which is 45 per cent (46.49 per cent) of total 19.663 BCM capacity.

In the central region, the storage was 57 per cent (59 per cent) of the 48.227 BCM capacity at  27.358 BCM. The level in Uttar Pradesh was 27 per cent below normal and in Chattisgarh 20 per cent lower. Of the 26 reservoirs, the water in 15 was lower than 50 per cent of the capacity. 

IMD forecast

In the 49 reservoirs in the western region, the storage was 60 per cent (67 per cent) of the 37.130 BCM capacity at 22.266 BCM.  Maharashtra had a 12 per cent lower storage, while storage in 15 of the reservoirs was 50 per cent below capacity.

Nearly treble the storage than normal in Assam is behind the eastern region showing better water level. The level in the 23 reservoirs was 59 per cent (61 per cent) of 20.430 BCM at 12.110 BCM. Odisha, Bengal and Nagaland had a lower storage.

The storage will likely decrease next week with the IMD forecasting a warmer than normal temperature this month. The national weather agency has forecast light rainfall in some parts of the country such as central India, Bengal and the southern peninsula.