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Monsoon nightmare hits agriculture, power

Poor rainfall during the ongoing monsoon has caused 84 major water reservoirs across the country — used for irrigation and hydel power generation — to witness the worst shortfall over the last decade. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 22, 2012 02:49 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Poor rainfall during the ongoing monsoon has caused 84 major water reservoirs across the country — used for irrigation and hydel power generation — to witness the worst shortfall over the last decade.

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The Central Water Commission (CWC), which monitors these reservoirs, reported 26% less water when compared to the average level over the last 10 years. "The shortfall in these reservoirs has increased by around 4% in a week," the National Rain-fed Area Authority told the Planning Commission on Friday.

As many as 71 of the 84 water reservoirs reported water levels of 40% or less, raising fears relating to hydel power generation as well as agriculture. While 37 reservoirs reported a substantial fall in electricity generation, the average area under cultivation for kharif crops had fallen from 1,057 lakh hectares to 428 lakh hectares due to lack of irrigation, the authority's report said.

After a meeting with officials of six states on Saturday, agriculture secretary Ashish Bahuguna stuck a positive note by contending that the overall rainfall deficiency had come down to 22% from 30% in June. "However, there are pockets of concern where rainfall is still deficient, and the situation is still a cause of concern," he said.

Based on the CWC report, the authority described the situation in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat – where the water level had fallen by more than 50% - as grave.

"The farmers and service providers should put in place some plans for compensatory production to make up for losses, if any," the authority said. "In case the deficiency persists, one has to plan sowing of short-duration pulses, oil seeds and fodder."

Weak monsoon worries Centre

The Centre on Saturday held a meeting with representatives of six states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana – to review the situation arising from a weak monsoon, which continues to be a significant 22% below normal.

Agriculture secretary Ashish Bahuguna said the situation in four states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan – was worrisome.Monsoon nightmare hits agriculture, power