South India wrecked by drought

South Indian states are staring at a severe water crisis this summer as water levels in major reservoirs have hit rock bottom. The worst-affected is Tamil Nadu where water levels are 80% less than normal.
Central Water Commission statistics show that TN is followed by Andhra Pradesh, with deficient storage of 48%. Karnataka and Kerala reservoirs have 37% and 31% less. Only Telangana has normal water reserves, with 75% above normal.

Normal storage is the mean for a period from 10 to 20 years. The collective water storage in 27 reservoirs spread across these drought hit states has depleted by nearly 100 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) within 20 days, raising concerns over drinking and irrigation needs in the coming months.

The present storage in reservoirs that depend on Cauvery river basin, the lifeline of farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, has only 14% of their full reservoir level marking a drastic drop in a decade by 65.43%. It is followed by reservoirs along the Krishna river basin in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The Centre has sent advisories to state governments to take urgent steps for optimal use of water. The Union ministries of water resources and rural development are working in tandem with priority being accorded to water recharging blocks where water was overdrawn in the drought affected states.

Water shortage has led to fierce inter-state disputes. In Tamil Nadu, at least 60 farmers have committed suicide between December 2016 and the first week of January this year because of distress.

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