In six major reservoirs in the northern states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, the water availability is less than 20 per cent of their total capacity of 18.01 billion cubic meters (BCM).

During the corresponding period last year, it was 42 per cent, while the average storage during last 10 years for this period was 30 per cent.

The storage level in reservoirs in Himachal, according to the Central Water Commission, is 35 per cent below normal, whereas in Punjab it is as much as 39 per cent below normal for this time of the year.

At Bhakra on the Sutlej, the storage this year is 24 per cent of its total capacity as compared to 39 per cent last year, while at Pong on the Beas, it is 11 per cent as compared to 36 per cent last year. At Thein on the Ravi in Punjab, the deviation is huge, with the current level being 28 per cent as compared to 84 per cent last year.

The inflow into Bhakra on Friday, according to Bhakra Beas Management Board sources, was 26,407 cusecs, while the outflow was 19,200 cusecs. The level this week was also 35 ft below last year's level.

The availability of water has serious implication for the agricultural sector as cotton and paddy sowing begins around this time of the year. Also, electricity requirement shoots up in summer.

Source: May 16, 2016, The Tribune