The early onset of the Southwest Monsoon has brought hope for the country’s major reservoirs that store water for use in irrigation, electricity and drinking water across India. With water levels below normal for this time of the year, it has been a parched start to the four-month monsoon season.
Figures released by the Central Water Commission (CWC) show that the country’s 91 major reservoirs have a total of 27.66 billion cubic metres (BCM) stored in them as of Thursday, May 31. This is just about 17% of their total storage capacity, 82% of the storage at the same period last year, and 89% of the average storage of the last 10 years at the corresponding period. In effect, it is below normal levels.
Of the five regions, the northern and the western regions are in a worse position than the other three. In the six reservoirs that are monitored in the northern region — in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan — the total live storage available is 2.55 BCM, or 14% of their total live storage capacity. Last year, their storage during the same period was 25%.
In Gujarat and Maharashtra, where the CWC monitors 27 reservoirs with a total live storage capacity of 31.26 BCM, the present storage available is 4.62 BCM, which is 15% of the total. The storage during the current year is once again less than that of last year, and also less than the average of the last 10 years for the corresponding period.
The 31 reservoirs in the southern region — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and two combined projects between AP and Telangana — have a total live storage capacity of 51.59 BCM. The available storage is only 6.31 BCM — 12% of the total capacity. This is still better than last year, when the live storage during the same period was 8%. The southern region appears to have been under strain over the last decade, with the average storage of the last 10 years during the corresponding period being 16% of live storage capacity.
The basins of the Ganga-Narmada-Mahi-Mahanadi river system, and the rivers of Kutch and the west flowing rivers of South India, appear to be doing well, while the river basins of the Indus, the Tapi, the Sabarmati, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Cauvery are deficient when compared to the average storage over the last 10 years.