The storage level in the major 150 Indian reservoirs dropped for the 15th week in a row with over a third of them having water below 40 per cent of their capacity this week.

The situation in the northern and southern regions has become a cause for concern, while Bengal and Tripura joined the list of States where the storage is below normal. The level in Kerala is normal, with the storage improving this week and overall, the level in 12 States is below normal. 

According to the weekly bulletin on live storage status of 150 reservoirs issued by the Central Water Commission, the storage in the 150 reservoirs as of January 18 was 99.181 billion cubic metres (BCM) or 55 per cent of the 178.784 BCM capacity. 

Turning worrisome

Compared to the current situation, the storage was 82 per cent during the same period a year ago. The average level of the past 10 years was 95 per cent, the CWC’s weekly bulletin said. 

The situation is worrisome as the country saw at least 45 per cent of the 713 districts from where data were received receiving deficient rainfall during the post-monsoon period. From the start of 2024 till now, 77 per cent of the 711 districts, which provided data, received deficient, largely deficient or no rainfall. 

Key rabi crops such as rice and pulses in South India, particularly Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, are likely to face problems. In the North, though irrigation canals will help tide over the situation, lack of snow due to El Nino impact may pose problems post-March, particularly for horticulture crops, agriculture experts said.

Uncomfortable for Cauvery delta

In the southern region, the storage in 22 of the 42 reservoirs is below 50 per cent of the capacity and two filled to capacity. The Thattihalla reservoir in Karnataka is empty, while Sholayar (Tamil Nadu), Tungabhadra, Nagarjuna Sagar, Kandaleru, Yeluru and Srisailam (all erstwhile Andhra) have a storage that is less than 50 per cent of the normal. 

The level in Krishnaraja Sagara (Karnataka) was 33 per cent of the capacity and the Stanley reservoir (Mettur) in Tamil Nadu was filled to 69 per cent of its capacity — a situation seen as not too comfortable for rice-growing regions in the Cauvery delta. 

Overall, the storage was 19.870 BCM, 37 per cent of total live storage capacity of the 42 reservoirs. Last week, the storage was 39 per cent of the capacity. 

Of the 10 reservoirs in the northern region, the storage was 10.078 BCM or 51.3 per cent (54 per centlast week) of the capacity. Four of these storages are filled to below 50 per cent of the capacity with the level in Punjab dropping to 37 per cent below normal. 

Maharashtra level up a tad

In the western region, the level in the 49 reservoirs was 24.862 BCM or 67 per cent (69 per cent) of capacity with 10 of them filled below 50 per cent of the full level. The situation in Maharashtra improved a tad to 8 per cent below normal against 9 per cent a week ago. 

The central region also saw its reservoirs’ level drop to 64 per cent (66 per cent) of capacity to 30.895 BCM. Of the 26 reservoirs, 13 were filled below 50 per cent of the full level, while no reservoir had storage above 90 per cent. 

Summer sowing at risk

The eastern region is the only one where the storage is better than last year and the average of the last 10 years. The 23 reservoirs in the region were filled 66 per cent (68 per cent) of the capacity at 13.476 BCM. Assam’s storage was more than double the normal level, while Nagaland (16 per cent below normal) and Bihar (51 per cent below normal) were the drags. 

With El Nino likely to turn neutral only during April-June and global agencies predicting that the climate will continue to be warm until March, the storage will likely drop further. This, experts said, could put summer-sown crops at risk.