Slow progress of the monsoon also affecting water storage in 91 major reservoirs which has dipped further and overall availability stands at just 15% of capacity. This has not only hit initial kharif sowing but also availability of drinking water across the country.
Though the area under kharif will increase once rains sweep the entire country over the next few weeks, yet the current water shortages have shrunk the total area under rice, pulses, oilseeds and other crops, except sugarcane. The sown area under kharif crops, till Friday, was 10% less than that in the same period last year.
Water levels in key reservoirs dipped from 26.81 billion cubic metres on May 26, to 23.78 BCM on June 16. With water levels in key reservoirs already at worrying levels, the situation could turn desperate if the monsoon fails to pick up in the next four-five days.
Reservoirs in south India are the worst affected. Central Water Commission figures, released on Friday, show that water availability in 31 reservoirs in the south was 4.86 BCM on June 16 — just 9% of capacity.
Comparatively, the situation in the north is much better with water levels in the region's six major reservoirs at 23% of capacity. Of the 91 big reservoirs monitored by the CWC, 27 are in the west, 15 in east and 12 in central India.
Besides supplying drinking water to many cities and providing water for irrigation, 37 of these 91 reservoirs have hydropower facilities with installed capacities of more than 60 MW.
Reservoirs being monitored include Gobind Sagar (Bhakra) and Pong Dam in Himachal Pradesh, Rana Pratap Sagar in Rajasthan, Panchet Hill in Jharkhand, Hirakud and upper Indravati in Odisha, Koyana and upper Vaitarna in Maharashtra etc.