South in drought grip, water in TN dams at 80% below normal

The southern states are staring at a severe water crisis this summer as water levels in major reservoirs have hit rock bottom. The situation is worst in Tamil Nadu where water levels in reservoirs are 80% less than normal.

Central Water Commission (CWC) statistics show that TN is followed by Andhra Pradesh, with deficient storage of 48%. Karnataka and Kerala reservoirs have 37% and 31% less. In the south, only Telangana has comfortable water reserves, with 71% above normal. Normal storage is the mean for a period from 10 to 20 years. The collective water storage in 27 reservoirs spread across these drought-hit states has depleted by nearly 100 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) within 20 days, raising concerns over drinking and irrigation needs in the coming months.

The present storage in reservoirs that depend on Cauvery river basin, the lifeline of farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, has only 14% of their full reservoir level (FRL) marking a drastic drop in a decade by 65.43%. It is followed by reservoirs along the Krishna river basin in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The panel has also found that rivers flowing in the southern peninsula have scarce water. The Centre has sent advisories to state governments to take urgent steps for optimal use of water. “We have written to the principal secretaries of water resources departments of state governments, asking them to take measures for water conservation,“ a top CWC official told TOI. The Union ministries of water resources and ru ral development are working in tandem with priority being accorded to water recharging blocks where water was overdrawn in the droughtaffected states. “Efforts are being taken to recharge groundwater in these blocks under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. We are also advising optimal use of water,“ said another official with the Union water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation department. Water shortage has led to fierce inter-state disputes. In Tamil Nadu, at least 60 farmers have committed suicide between December 2016 and the first week of January this year because of distress.

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