Poor monsoon fans concerns of 2016-like water crisis in South
Poor monsoon rainfall in 2016 in the catchment area of the Cauvery river caused an acute water shortage, leading to massive protests in Bengaluru, and an escalation of tensions between the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Deficient monsoon rains over southern India this year have raised fears of a drought-like situation in the region, and a 2016-type trickledown effect. In 2016, poor monsoon rainfall in the catchment area of the Cauvery river caused an acute water shortage.
This led to massive protests in Bengaluru, and an escalation of tensions between the neighbouring states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which have been involved in a protracted conflict over the sharing of water from the river.
Monsoon rains are crucial to the water security of the southern peninsula, which lacks the perennial snowfed rivers of the northern plains.
As of July 10, there was a shortfall of 28% in monsoon rainfall in the southern peninsula as compared to the long-period average between 1951 and 2000. Among the four broad regions for which the India Meteorological Department releases one cut of data, this is the highest shortfall this year (chart 1).
The deficient rainfall is reflected in water shortage in key reservoirs. There are 91 important reservoirs tracked by the Central Water Commission (CWC) across the country. As of July 12, the 31 reservoirs located in the southern states had a combined water shortfall of 30% as compared to their average over the last 10 years. This was, once again, the highest shortfall in 2019 among the five regions for which the CWC aggregates this data (chart 2).
Further, a river basin-wise analysis reveals that all major rivers in southern India are currently showing a shortage. As of July 12, the reservoirs in the basin of the Cauvery river showed the largest shortfall among southern rivers, with a departure of about 46% from the average of the past 10 years (chart 3).
The IMD has forecast above-normal rainfall cumulatively for all southern states in the week of July 18 to July 24.
Unless the rains pick up pace, there is a huge water crisis brewing for the southern region.
(howindialives.com is a database and search engine for public data)
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