Millennium Post

Hardly any respite

Despite monsoon, rainfall deficit dropped to 21 per cent till July 7, 2019, and 91 reservoirs witness 17 per cent deficit

The southwest monsoon has reached near-peak coverage, starting almost a month ago. By this time India should have received a copious amount of rainfall, but several media reports have already stated otherwise. The latest data on the level of water in the country's reservoirs concur.

The cumulative live water storage in the country's 91 reservoirs is just 17 per cent of the total live storage capacity of 161.99 billion cubic metres (BCM), according to data released by Central Water Commission (CWC) on July 4. The live storage rose only marginally—to 26.94 BCM from 26.272 BCM—compared to reservoir levels on June 27.

Monsoons in 2019 have been the slowest progressing monsoon in at least 12 years, data from India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed. There has been a rainfall deficit of 21 per cent till July 7, 2019, while June recorded the second-lowest rainfall in the past seven years after the 42 per cent deficit in 2014. According to IMD data, 20 states have witnessed deficient rainfall and three are in 'large deficient' category from June 1 to July 7 this year.

Southwestern monsoon has been the major source of groundwater recharge in India. Deficient rainfall has impacted water storage in important western and southern rivers like the Sabarmati, the rivers of Kutch and Godavari. Storage in Kaveri is deficient, whereas it is 'highly deficient' in Tapi and Krishna. The basin stock in Ganga, Indus, and Mahi also reported a dip from seven days ago, despite the availability of 'close to normal' and 'normal' storage, CWC records showed.

India is the largest extractor of groundwater in the world, the Union Jal Shakti Ministry recently informed Parliament, citing a World Bank report. The Annual Replenishable Ground Water Resource of the country is 447 billion cubic meter (BCM) and the Net Annual Ground Water Availability is 411 BCM, according to the World Bank's latest assessment in 2013. The Annual Ground Water Draft (utilisation) for various uses is 253 BCM.

According to the CWC, 62 reservoirs in the country reported 80 per cent or below of normal storage—46 out of these had storage up to 50 per cent of normal levels. This has spiked major water crisis in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.

Despite the arrival of southwest monsoon, the water situation in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka worsened as they saw an increase in deficiency in reservoirs in seven days.

In Tamil Nadu, the deficiency was reported at 52 per cent, an increase of five percentage points from June end. Similarly, Karnataka's and Kerala's deficiency increased to 41 and 54 per cent, from 36 and 47 per cent respectively.

In Gujarat and Maharashtra, the deficiency in water reservoirs was reported to be 17 and 66 per cent respectively. It has somewhat improved from the last week of June when it stood at 23 and 77 per cent respectively.

(The views expressed are of Down to Earth)

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