Drought looms over Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu while rest of India experiences normal monsoon

Despite India experiencing normal monsoon this year, the southern region covering the old Mysore region and coastal Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are seemingly coming closer to a drought-like situation.

The Indian Express reported that a situation similar to 2016 might emerge in the southern region. In the past year, Karnataka recorded 22 percent rainfall deficit during monsoon and it was minus 21 percent for coastal Karnataka. Meanwhile, Kerala recorded minus 34 percent rainfall and Tamil Nadu saw minus 20 percent.

 Drought looms over Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu while rest of India experiences normal monsoon

Representational image. AFP

Despite India recording an average area-weighted rainfall of 343.4 mm during the current monsoon season, rain has been below normal in South India.

Imran Qureshi noted in this Firstpost article that while Kerala and Tamil Nadu are facing an unprecedented drought – the worst ever in over a century, Karnataka's northern districts are also without water for the third consecutive year.

The result of this less than average rainfall is reflected in water levels of dams. The Indian Express report noted that the four reservoirs of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka – Krishna Raja Sagara, Hemavathy, Kabini and Harangi – have less water than they had at this time last year.

Tamil Nadu's fight for Cauvery water has also not helped much because Karnataka does not have enough water in the Cauvery to release it to the neighbouring state. Reservoir levels in the Cauvery have fallen because of consecutive monsoon failures.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had said last year that the state will not be able to share the Cauvery water with Tamil Nadu as the rain deficit has left the state in acute water crisis, India Today reported. "We have only 50 TMC of water, that is 50 percent deficiency, we need water for drinking purposes. Nearly 40 TMC of water will be needed and then we will be left with just 20 TMC. With this, we will have to irrigate our lands and give Tamil Nadu, please understand our position," he had said.

Indeed the water levels in the reservoirs indicate how close Karnataka is to a drought. According to Daily-o, Kabini and Harangi are at 40 percent capacity while Krishna Raja Sagara and Hemavathy have only between 15-20 percent of their capacity.

The situation is not expected to improve in the coming week. "There is possibility of some scattered rainfall in south interior Karnataka and Kerala over the coming two days, but it will not be enough to compensate for the current deficit in this area," said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, head of services at the India Meteorological Department.

The Indian Express data shows that situation has hardly improved in terms of water in these reservoirs. The worst affected are Bengaluru and Mysuru because they depend on the Cauvery dam to meet their drinking needs, The Hindustan Times reported.

With prolonged drought-like situation in Karnataka, Siddaramaiah said that the state had suffered a crop loss of Rs 25,000 crore.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu has not fared any better. On 10 January, then Chief Minister O Panneerselvam declared Tamil Nadu drought-hit. But as summer set in full force, the state is experiencing an even worse weather. Chennai is experiencing heat waves, with temperatures crossing 40 degrees Celsius. Even the Karnataka released water was barely enough.

Qureshi notes in the Firstpost article, "The state is now tapping water filled in mines and quarries, water released from Neyveli's thermal power plant and desalination plants to somehow meet the needs of the thirsty population."

"It is a drought we haven’t seen in 10 years," said S Thirunavukkarasu, retired official of the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department, was quoted as saying.

Kerala is also facing the worst drought in the state in 115 years. The Southwest Monsoon has been deficient by 33.7 percent. Apart from the usual problems that come along with drought, Kerala is also facing a shortage of power supply.

The state usually depends on hydroelectric power and the Idukki hydroelectric project, which is the largest producer of power in the state, has only enough water to generate 40 percent of its total capacity.

The groundwater situation is also dire in the state, according to The Hindustan Times report. Almost all reservoirs have been recording steep falls in water level continuously.

However, the rest of the country is experiencing normal or even heavy rainfall. Reuters quoted the IMD as saying, "Rains have been heavier and the seasonal showers have been 21 percent above average." Skymetweather anticipates normal monsoon conditions over North East, parts of West Bengal, remaining parts of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Telangana. Maharashtra has also featured among the wettest places in the country, according to The Times of India.

The IMD has also sounded an alert for extremely heavy to heavy rainfall in Maharashtra and the Konkan-Goa region.

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Updated Date: Jul 20, 2017 15:07:30 IST