According to a report in Down To Earth, not enough. India’s reservoirs are 40% deficit and monsoon is retreating.

Availability of water in country’s 91 major reservoirs fell to 95.313 billion cubic metres or 60 per cent of the total storage capacity, as on September 23, according to an official release.

“This storage is 75 per cent of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 77 per cent of storage of average of last ten years,” says the release by the Ministry of Water Resources.

The South Is In Trouble

The Down To Earth report again:

The southern region is the worst affected with only 35 per cent availability of water out of the total storage capacity of 51.59 billion cubic meters. The region, which includes Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, had only 17.87 billion cubic metres of water in the reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period last year was 72 per cent while the average storage of last ten years was 81 per cent of storage capacity of these reservoirs.

The Cauvery river rises in Coorg in Karnataka and flows into Tamil Nadu. The catchment has not seen normal rainfall this monsoon causing tensions in the management of this transboundary river. A look at the Krishna Raja Sagara numbers (PDF) at the time of posting this, shows that the water level is 53% of FRL (full reservoir level). i.e. Karnataka has a little more than half of a full KRS reservoir.

Tamil Nadu, downstream, is screaming for its share.

The politics of transboundary water-sharing is playing out thus:

Water Resources Minister M B Patil had said the state was in no position to release water citing poor monsoon. However, the state has quietly released 8,255 cusecs of water from KRS and about 4,000 cusecs from Kabini.

On learning about the release, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha activists protested by standing in the Cauvery river near Srirangapatna while Kannada activists protested near irrigation offices, demanding stoppage of the release of water.

The release comes in the backdrop of the KRS level standing at 105.15 ft against the maximum of 124.8 ft and the Mandya district administration’s appeal to farmers to grow semi-dry drops instead of irrigated crops like paddy and sugarcane.

Protestors said irrigation officials have been releasing water from KRS at night. They threatened to lay siege to reservoirs and take over water management if the government fails to close the crest gates.

 

Rural south-central Karnataka, the mushrooming, thirsty, energy-hungry Bangalore, a large part of rural Tamil Nadu, and cities like Trichy all depend upon the Cauvery (and on desperately sinking, desiccating groundwater) for their water supply.

We’re in September. The next monsoon is at least a full eight months away.

Can we afford to do business as usual?

devarabeesanahalli