The water level in India’s 150 major reservoirs dropped below 70 per cent of the capacity, while the storage in 14 States has turned below normal level this week.

According to the Central Water Commission’s weekly bulletin on live storage, the storage in the major reservoirs as of Thursday (November 9) was 124.124 billion cubic metres (BCM) or 69 per cent of the live capacity of 178.784 BCM. The level is lower than last year as well as the last 10 years average. Last week, the storage was 71 per cent of the capacity. 

A -32 per cent deficient rainfall in August and poor post-monsoon precipitation are the reasons for the fall in the storage level. According to the India Meteorological Department, 64 per cent of the 712 districts, from where data has been received, have received no or deficient rainfall. 

Poor post-monsoon rainfall and depleting water level in reservoirs could impact the production of rabi crops, particularly wheat, rice, mustard and gram (chana). 

Gujarat, an exception

Data showed that the storage in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh are of concern among the 14 States whose water level is below normal. (See table). Gujarat is one State that seems to have ample water with the storage level being 31 per cent above normal. 

Also, the level in 15 reservoirs in the country is up to 50 per cent of normal storage, while 105 have 80 per cent or more of the normal storage.

The water level in the southern region continued to below 45 per cent of the normal at 44 per cent like last week. Of the 42 reservoirs in the region, the level in 12 is below 40 per cent of normal storage, while it is between 40 per cent and 50 per cent in 8 regions. 

Encouraging signs

The storage dropped sharply this week in the northern region. It fell to 14.909 BCM or 76 per cent of the capacity against 79 per cent last week. Of the 10 reservoirs in the region, none is full but the encouraging sign is that no storage’s level is below 50 per cent. 

The water level in the 23 reservoirs in the eastern region declined to 14.754 BCM or 72 per cent of the capacity compared with 73.82 per cent last week. While the storage in one is below 40 per cent of normal, in three others is below 50 per cent. 

In the western region with 49 reservoirs, the storage was 31.719 BCM or 85 per cent of the capacity, one percentage point lower than last week. The level in 33 reservoirs was above 80 per cent with four of them being filled to capacity. 

In the 26 reservoirs of the central region, the storage slipped to 39.182 BCM or 81 per cent of capacity. Last week, the level was 82.18 per cent. The level in 11 is below 40 per cent of normal, while four are filled to the brim.  

El Nino impact

One reason for deficient rainfall this year is the emergence of El Nino, which resulted in August receiving its lowest rainfall since 1901. The precipitation in October was the sixth-lowest since 1901. 

According to European weather agency Copernicus, January-October this year has been the warmest on record. US weather agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said at least 21 per cent of India was reeling under drought till September-end.