Alarmed by the water levels in reservoirs across the country and the severe drought in several parts, the Centre has convened a meeting of Water Resources Ministers of states on June 11 to discuss the issue of water conservation, drinking water, and sanitation. New Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who will chair the meeting, will seek co-operation of the states in overcoming the crisis that has attained severe proportions.
The meeting is also significant because this will be the first conference organised by the new Jal Shakti Ministry which has been carved out by combining the Water Resources and Ganga River Rejuvenation Ministry with Drinking Water and Rural Sanitation Ministry about which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken during the Lok Sabha elections. Since water is essentially state subject, the Centre has very little to do on its own but can extend help to the states by coordinating on interstate issues.
The main agenda of the conference is water conservation but officials are worried about the attendance of the ministers due to short notice for the meeting. The decision to convene the meeting comes against the backdrop of grim position in the live storage status of 91 reservoirs in the country.
As of last Thursday out of these reservoirs, 37 reservoirs have hydropower benefit with an installed capacity of more than 60 megawatt (MW). The total live storage capacity of these 91 reservoirs is 161.993 billion cubic metre (BCM), which is about 63 per cent of the live storage capacity of 257.812 BCM, which is estimated to have been created in the country. Last year, the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 26.690 BCM and the average of last 10 years live storage was 29.536 BCM. Thus, the live storage available in 91 reservoirs as per 6.6.2019 bulletin is 114 per cent of the live storage of the corresponding period of last year and 103 per cent of storage of average of last ten years.
The overall storage position is more than the corresponding period of last year in the country as a whole and also more than the average storage of the last ten years during the corresponding period. Normal storage means average storage of last ten years. Close to the normal storage means where the shortfall of normal is 20 per cent of normal, deficient storage is where the shortfall is more than 20 per cent of the normal and up to 60 per cent of the normal. Highly deficient means where the shortfall is more than 60 per cent of normal.
An analysis by the Central Water Commission (CWC) shows that better than normal storage is available in Ganga, Indus, and the Narmada; close to normal in Mahi and Mahanadi and neighboring east flowing rivers and west flowing rivers of the south. It is deficient in Sabarmati, rivers of Kutch, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery, and neighbouring east flowing rivers and highly deficient in Tapi.
The analysis also shows that the numbers of reservoirs having storage more than last year are 24 and reservoirs having storage more than average of the last ten years are 32. The number of reservoirs having less than 20 per cent with respect to last year is 12 and having storage less than 20 per cent with the reference to the average of the last ten years is 19. The number of reservoirs having storage less than or equal to 50 per cent with respect to last year is 22 and having storage less than or equal to 50 per cent with reference to the average of the last ten years is 28. (ANI)
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