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Sunday, June 19

India's water crisis. My second message for Indian readers: Is the first message clear now?

(First message: February 23, 2015)

Last week, officials said the city of Mumbai only had about 25 days worth of water left in its reservoirs ...

The lack of water was a major problem for years prior to the drought because the country is also facing a big loss of groundwater, which cannot be replenished ... Critics of the new [river] diversion measures are also upset that ILR is not feasible for a host of reasons. ... [WE INTERRUPT THIS QUOTE FOR AN IDIOT ALERT:] "The project is based on the idea of diverting water from where it is surplus to dry areas but there has been no scientific study yet on which places have more water and which ones less."

India Drought Hits Crisis Point, 330 Million People Affected
June 18, 2016
Telesur

Drinking water is running low in many states and poor levels of rainfall have prompted extreme measures.

Water in a staggering 91 of India’s major reservoirs currently stands at just 15 percent of capacity, according to estimates released Friday by the Central Water Commission, with the much needed monsoon rains yet to hit most parts of India.

"The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on June 16, 2016 was 23.786 BCM, which is 15 percent of total storage capacity of these reservoirs," the water agency announced on Friday.

The decline in water storage in the big reservoirs can be attributed to two consecutive drought years along with monsoon deficits of 12 and 14 percent in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the Times of India reported Friday.

[...]

Drinking water is running low in many states and poor levels of rainfall have prompted extreme measures, including stationing armed guards at reservoirs and sending water trains to the worst-affected regions.

Meanwhile, reservoirs in southern India are the worst affected. The water availability in 31 reservoirs in the south was 4.86 BCM on June 16 — just 9 percent of capacity, the Times of India also reported.

Throughout the country, the government estimates at least 330 million people are affected by drought in India.

[END TELESUR REPORT]

India's Drought Is Wreaking Havoc on Its Reservoirs
June 17, 2016
The Weather Channel

[...]

The animated image at the top of this page shows one of India's reservoirs that has been hit especially hard by the drought – Jharkhand state's Panchet Hill reservoir. Located in far eastern India, Panchet Hill stood at just 4 percent of capacity at the beginning of this month. The first frame in the image – the one that shows the reservoir considerably more full – was taken a year ago, while the second frame shows just how far the water level has fallen in 2016.

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, June water levels at Panchet Hill are about 40 percent of capacity during a normal year, but are replenished by the monsoon rains soon after. This year, with the reservoir at just 4 percent of capacity, it'll take a lot more rain than usual to refill the reservoir, whenever the rain arrives.

The images, acquired by NASA's Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite, show one example of a countrywide problem. India's 91 major reservoirs were a combined 16 percent of capacity as of June 9, down 79 percent from the 10-year average, NASA said. Last week, officials said the city of Mumbai only had about 25 days' worth of water left in its reservoirs, the Times of India reported, further highlighting how dire this situation has become – even in the big cities.


[END WEATHER CHANNEL REPORT]

India to 'divert rivers' to tackle drought
By Navin Singh Khadka, Environment Reporter
BBC World Service
16 May 2016

Consecutive disappointing monsoon seasons in India have left 330 million people in a deep drought, and officials plan to fight the dry conditions by taking unprecedented measures.

Water would be transferred from a slew of sources – including rivers like the Ganges and Brahmaputra – into drought areas as part of a $168 billion project called the Interlinking of Rivers (ILR), according to Nature World News. Water will be diverted from 30 different places, some fed by glaciers in the Himalayas, to drought-ridden areas, BBC.com reported.
"Interlinking rivers is our prime agenda and we have got the people's support and I am determined to do it on the fast track," water resources minister Uma Bharti told reporters.

The drought has stretched into one of the worst in recent history for India, and Nature World News said nearly half of the country's states are currently in an extreme water crisis. Shortages were so dire in recent months that the government ordered trains to deliver water to Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states, the report added.

The lack of water was a major problem for years prior to the drought because the country is also facing a big loss of groundwater, which cannot be replenished, BBC.com added. Critics of the new diversion measures are also upset that ILR is not feasible for a host of reasons.

"It is even more impossible in the context of climate change as you don't know what will happen to the rivers' flows," Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People told BBC.com. "The project is based on the idea of diverting water from where it is surplus to dry areas but there has been no scientific study yet on which places have more water and which ones less."

If the decision is made to divert these rivers, it will also have a negative impact on Bangladesh, into which 54 of India's 56 river flow, the country's Minister for Water Resources, Muhammad Nazrul Islam, told BD News 24. They're asking Indian leaders to share specific plans for how they'll execute this project to ensure it's not violating international rules that forbid countries from taking water away from people living downstream, he also said.

“India is giving a lot of importance to its own people hit by drought ... but it must not ignore our rights," Nazrul Islam told BD News 24. "I don’t expect India to do that either.”

[END BBC REPORT]

Here are the passages I omitted from the Telesur report
With global temperatures rising, the frequency of drought is also expected to increase between 2020 and 2049, according to a recent research paper to be published in Current Science.
“The frequency and severity of droughts during 2020-49 is likely to be higher,” confirmed P V Joseph, senior meteorologist and the lead author of the research paper.
For readers who aren't depressed enough, here are two articles on India's water politics, which make California's water politics look sane.  

Harvest of Misery and the Perpetual Drought Politics; Indian Express, May 2, 2016

India's Water Politics; Foreign Affairs; May 29, 2016

The second article is even more depressing than the first because the author wants the United States to get involved with solving India's water problems:
Fortunately, by adopting some common-sense reforms, India’s government can work with the United States and other powers to provide water security for the sub-continent.
I think it's time for a little rain music.



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