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More water than normal,but last year was better

Reservoirs are 20% full compared to 25% at this time in 2011; deviation below normal is stark in drought-affected Karnataka and Maharashtra

Written by Ravish Tiwari | New Delhi |
June 7, 2012 12:12:17 am

As the country awaits the spread of the monsoon,the water level in 84 major reservoirs crucial for irrigation and power generation is running below the levels of last year. Reservoirs in Karnataka,Maharashtra and Orissa in particular,according to data complied days before the first rains arrived in Kerala,had till then stored much below what is normal for this time of the year.

As of May 31,a day before the usual onset of monsoon on June 1,the total water stored in these reservoirs monitored by Central Water Commission (CWC) was about 20 per cent less than it had been the previous year.

Figures compiled by the CWC show the total live storage in these 84 reservoirs,which include 37 with power generation units,at 30.48 billion cubic metres against the live capacity at full reservoir level (FRL) of 154.421 BCM. The current live storage works out to about 20 per cent of live capacity; last year’s storage was 25 per cent at this stage.

Yet the live storage till May 31 was over 25 per cent higher than the average over the last 10 years for this stage. This average is taken as the yardstick for what is called normal storage.

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Of the 84 reservoirs,59 closed the month with more than 80 per cent of the normal storage at this stage,while eight were in the range 51-80. The remaining 17 reservoirs,which had stored less than half the normal amount,included five each in Karnataka (Krishnaraja Sagra,Ghataprabha,Renuka,Kabini and Almatti) and Maharashtra (Paithon,Bhima,Mula,Yeldari,and Upper Tapi). Both governments have already declared parts of these states as drought-affected and demanded Central assistance. Three deficient reservoirs in Orissa (Balimela,Rengali and Upper Kolab),two in Gujarat (Damanganga and Dantiwada) and one each in Tripura (Gumti) and Tamil Nadu (Lower Bhawani) make up the total of 17.

In terms of river basins,ten of the 12 major ones,including the Ganga,the Narmada,the Godavari,the Cauvery and the Mahanadi,had better-than-normal water storage. In the Indus and Krishna river basins,however,the water stored was below the average of the last 10 years for around this stage of the year.

The fact that these reservoirs,in spite of having stored amounts above normal,remain so short of last year’s levels is because of a good monsoon that had given the country a record harvest of over 250 million tonnes of foodgrains. With kharif sowing set to start soon,the expectation is that the projected normal monsoon will allow the reservoirs to overcome the shortfall from last year’s levels,and regenerate enough water to meet the demand from the winter crop.

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