Higher water storage improves prospect of Kharif, Rabi crops

Vinu Jehoshapat
Last Updated: 05 Sep, 2019

As per official data, water storage in 107 reservoirs across India rose to 106.6 billion cubic metres (BCM) till August 14, compared to the 10-year average of 87.5 BCM.


CHANDIGARH: Heavy rains in recent days have improved water storage levels of crucial reservoirs in large parts of India, promising more water for irrigation of paddy, cotton and pulses in the ongoing kharif season and brightening prospects of better yield in the rabi season ahead.

As per official data, water storage in 107 reservoirs across India rose to 106.6 billion cubic metres (BCM) till August 14, compared to the 10-year average of 87.5 BCM.

After a delayed start this year, heavy monsoon rains buttressed sowing of crops and also filled reservoirs that are crucial for watering crops in the coming months.

More rain in the coming days is expected to increase the water level to maximum levels by the end of filling period,” a senior official of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) told ET on condition of anonymity.

The official said that the higher storage will allow more water for irrigating crops in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Water level at Bhakra dam was recorded at 509 metres on Thursday, against full reservoir level of 512 metres, the official said.

BBMB projects irrigate an area of 13.5 million hectares in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, and September 20 is considered to be the cut-off date for filling reservoirs.

Water reservoir levels in northern India are crucial for paddy, cotton, pulses, groundnut, sugarcane and wheat crops. Currently, the water level is higher than that last year in all the main reservoirs in Punjab and Rajasthan, namely Thein, Mahi Bajaj Sagar, Jhakam and Rana Pratap Sagar.

Farmers have been provided more canal water for irrigation this kharif season in Rajasthan, where scanty rains had affected sowing in the beginning of the season, and it has improved crop sowing that was lagging due to late rains,” said a senior official of Rajasthan Water Resources Department, who did not wish to be identified.

The northern region, which includes states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan, has total useable capacity of 18 BCM in six reservoirs which are monitored by the Central Water Commission. The useable storage stood at 13.09 BCM till Thursday against 9.18 BCM last year.

In some other parts of the country, however, shortfall in rains is keeping water storage levels below that last year. These states are Kerala, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Monsoon rainfall has been deficit in parts of Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

According to the Central Water Commission, more than 50 reservoirs have storage more than that last year and 60 others have more water than the average of the past ten years. Just five reservoirs have storage less than or equal to 20% of what it was last year and seven have less storage than in the past ten years. There are 16 reservoirs that have storage less than or equal to half of what it was last year and 14 have storage less than or equal to half of the average of the past ten years.

Vinu Jehoshapat