With deficient rainfall worsening the drought situation in Madhya Pradesh, 139 main reservoirs in the state are drying up fast with 82 having less than 10% water left. At least 21 reservoirs have dried up, while 23 reservoirs have just 10 to 25% water left.
Water level has also plunged sharply in the reservoirs around Bhopal. The Kaliasote reservoir, which can hold over 34 million cubic metres (MCM) of water at its full reservoir level (FRL), has just 3.1 MCM water left. The Kerwa dam reservoir, which holds over 22 MCM, has shrunk to 1.6 MCM. Kolar reservoir, which holds 265 MCM water, is left with just 10% water, while Tawa reservoir with its vast capacity of 1944 MCM has almost dried up.
The fast falling water level in the reservoirs and its impact on the local population has caused a flutter in the state government too.
People forced to drink unsafe murky water from depleting water sources
In many areas people are forced to drink unsafe murky water from depleting and shrinking water sources, which have sparked diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal diseases. Lack of water for irrigation has also increased farmer distress and increased suicides across the state.
Last year 581 farmers committed suicide in MP according to the state government figures. In last 15 years, over 18,000 farmers have committed suicide in MP, with an average of three farmer suicides every day.
We’re unable to provide water to people in many areas: Engineer-in-chief
According to Madan Gopal Choubey, engineer-in-chief to water resources minister, it was one of the worst scenarios in last few decades where water in over a dozen reservoirs had shrunk to 1-2%. “The situation is bad particularly in northern and western MP, compared to Malwa region, which is comparatively better. I am hoping this year, monsoon won’t be deficient, otherwise the crisis will deepen,” he said.
“With such low levels in the reservoirs, we are unable to provide water to people in many areas of the state”, he said, adding that water in these reservoirs was used mainly for irrigation, drinking and industrial usage.
If we want water security, we have to secure the forests first: Environmentalist
According to environmental experts, deficient rains over years has primarily contributed to sharp decline in the overall water quantum of the reservoirs along with severe heatwave that increase evaporation rate and decrease in green cover. “Green cover in MP has shrunk. This has had an impact on the rainfall pattern and water level in the reservoirs and rivers. If we want water security, we have to secure the forests first,” said environmentalist Subhash Pandey.