Karnataka might face another year of drought as the storage level in all four reservoirs of the Cauvery basin is 50% less than it was last year. The total storage this year in the reservoirs – Kabini, Krishnaraja Sagar, Hemavati and Harangi – was at 26 tmcft as against 57.89 tmcft last year, according to Karnataka Water Resources Minister MB Patil.

“Last year, the state was considered to be reeling under its worst drought during the last 40 years,” Patil said during a press conference on Monday. He added that if the monsoon does not pick up in the next few weeks, a meeting will be held to discuss the state’s next steps.

The situation for farmers is grim, as the state has refused to release water for agriculture again this year. Drinking water will be prioritised, Patil said, adding that water will be only be released for agriculture if storage improves, The New Indian Express reported.

“The kharif season has begun and there is no adequate water for irrigation purposes. Farmers should realise the situation,” he said, according to Deccan Chronicle.

The minister said as per the Supreme Court order, Karnataka was releasing 25% to 30% of total inflows in Cauvery basin to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, PTI reported. He said since June 1, 2.2 tmcft water was released to Tamil Nadu.

Earlier this month, Karnataka farmers and pro-Karnataka outfits had staged protests against the release of water to the neighbouring state instead of taking steps to increase water storage level at KRS dam.