New Delhi: A water crisis has taken India by storm, with Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu making headlines for what can only be described as an emergency.
Delay in monsoons and bone-dry surface-level resources have left groundwater as the only redeemer. But the exploitation of under-water reserves in the last two decades has resulted in a sharp fall in water table levels.
With nearly 50 per cent of the country grappling with water shortage, the crisis seems far from over. Excessive demand, coupled with mismanaged resources, and erratic weather patterns have only added fuel to the fire. But the question remains, how did we reach here?
Deficit in Rainfall
A weekly report of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) states that as of June 19, the cumulative rainfall for the Long Period Average (LPA) was recorded below 43 per cent between June 1 and 19. This entails that agriculture, domestic and industrial demands, all have taken a massive blow as other resources depend on rainwater for recharging.
LPA is the average rainfall received by the country during monsoon over a 50-year period.
Peninsular India recorded a 38 per cent deficiency, while the situation in Central India is much worse with a 54 per cent rainfall deficit. Until June 20, the situation in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and parts of Madhya Pradesh was not far from being classified as drought-hit.
Maharashtra fell short of rainfall by 60 per cent this season. Marathwada and Vidarbha, notorious for a perpetual drought, recorded 75 and 89 per cent rain deficit respectively.
Central Maharashtra and the Konkan region have received just a third of their average. Tamil Nadu and eastern Madhya Pradesh reported deficits of 34 and 64 per cent, while the western region received just half of the expected rainfall. Karnataka is the only state on peninsular India to have received normal rainfall this year.
In the forecast for June 27 to July 3, IMD suggests that all the coastal states, with the exception of Tamil Nadu, will experience above average rainfall. South-eastern parts of Madhya Pradesh are also expected to get above normal rainfall. The Northeast may also receive normal rainfall.
The remaining states in the country will receive below normal to normal rainfall for this period.
Reservoirs & River Basins
The Central Water Commission, in a weekly report, said of 91 major reservoirs in the country, 11 have zero per cent storage. As many as 59 reservoirs reported having storage lesser than 80 per cent of its average.