Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Hirakud and Rengali reservoirs current storage with respect to live capacity at Full Reservoir Level (FRL) hit a decade low this year as on August 9.

As per latest data available with the Water resources department, with the current live storage of 0.854 billion cubic metres (BCM), Hirakud's current storage in proportion to the live capacity at FRL is mere 16 per cent vis-a-vis of 41 per cent last year.  The average proportion was 42 per cent during the last decade.

Similarly, the status of Rengali looks more worse. A reservoir on Brahmani river, the current live storage on Friday was 0.308 BCM, which is a meagre 9 per cent of the live capacity at FRL. In contrast, the proportion last year had been 53 per cent and the average during the last decade was 33 per cent.

How steep is the fall in current live storage in these two important reservoirs? The storage position of Hirakud reservoir in 2018-19 was 2,182 BCM and average storage position in the reservoir during the last decade was 2,238 BCM.

Similarly , in Rengali the storage position in 2018-19 was 1,127 BCM and the average during the last decade was 1,127 BCM.

In contrast, other reservoirs in the State present a satisfactory storage position. While Balimela's current year storage is 44 per cent of the live capacity at FRL, it has been 82 per cent in Indravati and 71 per cent in Machkund. The proportion is 44 per cent for Salandi, 45 per cent for upper Kolab and 50 per cent for Sapua reservoirs, respectively.

Barring Sapua, the storage position in the aforesaid reservoirs have posted a rise from the average normal storage level during the last decade.

While Hirakud was designed to irrigate 235 thousand hectares, the current irrigation coverage stood at a measly 153 thousand hectares. The irrigation coverage by Rengali also stood lower at three-thousand hectares.

Since water storage at Hirakud and Rengali is directly linked to water level upstream in Mahanadi and Brahmani (Koel & Sankh), and amidst the raging water row between Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, are the disputes have any role in depletion of current storage positions?

An analysis of Central Water Commission data reveals mixed results. The data reveals that with the Mahanadi reservoir in Chhattisgarh having the current live storage at 0.265 BCM that is 35 per cent of the live storage capacity at FRL, which is the same as that of the last year.

But in comparison, the average storage position during the last decade had been 62 per cent, which records a fall in water storage status in Chhattisgarh now vis-a-vis a decade ago.

However, what is clearly discernible is the status in Chhattisgarh, at least, this time is better than Odisha.