Over 50 per cent of India’s 150 major reservoirs are filled 50 per cent below their capacity, with the storage declining for the 19th week in a row. More disconcertingly, over a third of the reservoirs have water less than 40 per cent of the capacity, data from the Central Water Commission (CWC) showed.

According to CWC Weekly bulletin on live storage of 150 reservoirs in the country, 54 have a level less than 40 per cent while 23 others have levels lower than 50 per cent. Four reservoirs are filled to capacity but two have no water and five are filled less than 10 per cent of the capacity.

The bulletin said the storage in the major reservoirs this week was 47 per cent of the 178.784 BCM capacity at 84.32 BCM. Last week it was 49 per cent. During the same period a year ago, the level was 82 per cent and the last 10 years’ average is 95 per cent. 

Zaid crops in trouble?

The situation is of concern for the southern region where standing rabi paddy and pulses crop could face problems. Similarly, lower water storage could impact the summer or zaid crop. Some farmers opt to sow during zaid, which is between rabi and kharif seasons to grow pulses, oilseeds and rice. 

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), there has been either deficient, large deficient or no rainfall in 69 per cent of the 712 districts that provided data. This has left 12 States in the country having below normal storage.

The situation in the southern region continued to be grim compared to other regions with the storage dropping to 31 per cent (33 per cent last week) of the 53.334 BCM capacity at 16.555 BCM. Of the 42 reservoirs in the region, 27 are filled below 50 per cent of the capacity.

Andhra Pradesh (-57 per cent), Karnataka (-29 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (-18 per cent) had levels lower than normal. The storage in Nagarjuna Sagar (7 per cent of capacity), Kandaleru and Kaddam (10 per cent each), Tungabhadra (8 per cent), Tattihalla (0) and Sholayar (1 per cent) were precarious. 

Double the normal in Assam

In the northern region, eight of the 10 reservoirs continued to have levels less than 50 per cent of capacity. The storage this week was 42 per cent (45 per cent) of the 19.663 BCM capacity at 8.287 BCM. Among the States in the region, the level in Punjab (-15 per cent) and Rajasthan (-8 per cent) were lower than normal. 

Of the 23 reservoirs in the eastern region, three are filled to capacity while 10 have storage less than 50 per cent of the capacity. The region has a capacity of 20.430 BCM and the storage was 11.714 BCM or 57 per cent (59 per cent) capacity. Assam boasted of having twice the normal level of water but Odisha (-5 per cent), West Bengal (-8 per cent), Nagaland (-18 per cent) and Bihar (-56 per cent) had below normal storage. 

Sixteen of the 49 reservoirs in the western region had a storage of less than 50 per cent of capacity. The region has 37.130 BCM capacity and the level this week was 58 per cent (60 per cent) at 21.457 BCM. Maharashtra had 13 per cent lower than normal storage.  

The 26 reservoirs in the central region were filled 55 per cent (57 per cent) of the 48.227 BCM capacity at 26.307 BCM. But 16 of them have levels lower than 50 per cent of the capacity. Among the States, Uttar Pradesh (-26 per cent) and Chhattisgarh (-20 per cent) had lower than normal storage. 

The situation will likely continue to be grim but there is hope in the form of IMD forecast, which said rainfall/snowfall is likely over western Himalayan region later this week and adjoining north-western plains next week.