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NEW DELHI:Water storage in major Indian reservoirs has dipped to 19% of their total capacity, according to a weekly update by the Central Water Commission on Thursday.
On the back of consecutive droughts in 2014 and 2015, several parts of India have faced searing droughts. This has contributed to water in these 91 dams steadily falling to touch decadal lows since April but a top official said water levels had not ever dipped below 20%.
‘Situation not critical’
“I don’t immediately remember whether it has ever dipped below 20%,” G.S. Jha , CWC Chairman, told The Hindu “but not in the last 4-5 years at least.”
Mr. Jha, however, emphasised that the situation “wasn’t critical” because there was enough drinking water and several dams were drained out of extra water during May in anticipation of a good monsoon. “The monsoons are expected in Kerala by the end of this month so I think the latest figures shouldn’t cause alarm.” Droughts in Maharashtra had forced the government to send water in trains to Latur to provide for drinking water.
He said there was also reduced water demand for agricultural purposes during the summer months and in anticipation of the monsoon, beginning June.
The CWC sends out a weekly update of the water levels in 91 of India’s major dams. Though these are less than 2% of India’s approximately 4,500 dams, they store nearly two-thirds of India’s reservoir water. Out of these reservoirs, 37 reservoirs have hydropower benefit with installed capacity of more than 60 MW.
According to the Thursday update, the current year’s storage is nearly 64 per cent of last year’s storage and 77 per cent of the average of last 10 years.
The most significant declines have registered in the Indus, Tapi and Mahi basins which are 35%, 39% and 42% less than their decadal normals.
A good monsoon is critical to replenishing these reservoirs. Last month, the India Meteorological Department has forecast the monsoon rains during June-September to be 106% of the normal. Later this month it is expected to announce a date for the monsoon onset over Kerala.