The water storage level in key reservoirs in South India continue to be a cause for concern even as the levels in major 150 ones across the country are below the average level of the last 10 years.

Data from the Central Water Commission (CWC) show that the storage in major reservoirs increased to  71 per cent of capacity at 126.463 billion cubic meters (BCM) from 113.417 BCM (63 per cent of capacity) on August 31 — thanks to the South-West monsoon turning active again this month. 

But the level is lower than the last 10 years’ average of 137 BCM (81 per cent). A year ago, the storage was 157.086 BCM (92 per cent), the CWC said in its weekly bulletin. The levels are low in view of a truant south-west monsoon which has resulted in a 7 per cent rainfall deficiency. The deficiency is 20 per cent in eastern parts and 11 per cent in the South, which reflects on the storage. 

Southern basins

The major concern is the level in the southern river basins. The level was 57.55 per cent lower than the last 10 years’ average in the Cauvery basin, while it was nearly 65 per cent in the Pennar basin.

The storage in the river basins from Tadri to Kanyakumari was down by 44.5 per cent compared to the last decade’s average and it was about 30 per cent in the Krishna basin. The level in Godavari is some six per cent higher.

The water level in east flowing river basins between Mahanadi and Pennar was 50.5 per cent lower than the last 10 year’s average. In all these cases, the level is lower compared with August 31, though it has improved in the case of east-flowing rivers.

Bengal situation grim

State-wise, the level in Bihar’s only reservoir is 95 per cent below  normal (-66 per cent on August 31), while the situation in West Bengal has turned grim with the storage being 41 per cent lower than normal (-1 per cent).

In the South, barring Kerala, the storage situation has deteriorated since August 31. Tamil Nadu’s level has dropped to 61 per cent below normal from 52 per cent, while Karnataka’s has slipped to 29 per cent from 22 per cent. 

The storage in Andhra has dropped to 48 per cent below normal from 42 per cent. In the west, the water level in Gujarat has improved by 16 percentage points to 37 per cent above normal, while it has declined in Maharashtra to 10 per cent below normal from 8 per cent. 

The reservoir level in South India will be the key to the fortunes of paddy and pulses during the rabi season. However, global models forecast good rains for the region between September and December.

Punjab level down

In the north, there has been a prolonged dry phase this month. This has lowered the storage in Punjab to 6 per cent below normal from 4 per cent above normal on August 31. The situation in Rajasthan and Himachal have improved during this period. 

East India is emerging as another region of concern with the level declining in West Bengal, Nagaland, Tripura and Assam. However, the situation has improved in Odisha and Jharkhand.

In Central India, though the water level has improved in Uttar Pradesh, it is still 36 per cent below normal, but the situation has improved in Madhya Pradesh, thanks to recent rains. 

The situation will likely improve further as the south-west monsoon has continued to lash many parts of the country this week.