In Maharashtra, 17 districts face threat of water scarcity

By Kiran Tare

The dark clouds of drought are looming large over Marathwada and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra due to prolonged dry spell that threaten Kharif crops.

According to the government officials, if the rains do not pick up over next few weeks, the region may be staring at another year of water scarcity in 2019. They said at least 17 districts are under the threat of drought-like situation.

There are nine major dams in Marathwada region. Out of that two are dried up and average water storage in dams is barely 28.81 per cent, not sufficient to last the entire year ahead. Most parts of Marathwada have received average monsoon rainfall this year so far. Water stock in the drought-prone Marathwada region in central Maharashtra stands at just 28.82 per cent. Paithan, popularly known as Jayakwadi dam, the lifeline of Marathwada has just 45.88 per cent water storage as on September 18, 2018 as compared to 87.63 per cent on the same day last year.
Manjara from Beed district has water storage 1.80 per cent as compared to 88.04 per cent. Majalgaon from the same district completely dried in mid-September. It had 60.48 per cent stock last year. An official from the Water Resources Department said, “It will be too early to predict whether the region will face severe scarcity. Generally, we expect rain till October end,” he said.

In Amravati division of western Vidarbha region, the average water storage is 57.37 per cent and in Nagpur division, eastern part of Vidarbha, the average water storage is 50.02 per cent.

Minister of State for Water Resources Vijay Shivtare said he had ordered the officials to allow flow of the water to lakes so that the water level will be kept maintained throughout the year. He blamed the excessive cultivation of sugarcane for decreasing water levels in the dams.

“Sugarcane produce needs huge quantity of water. The Manjara dam is almost dried this year because of the excessive use of water from the dam to cultivate sugarcane. There are three sugar mills and they have collectively crushed 34 lakh metric tonne sugarcane,” he pointed out.

While half of the state is facing drought-like situation, the sub-committee on Relief and Rehabilitation chaired by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil is yet to meet. A decision pertaining to declaration of drought-prone areas is expected October 15.

An official from Revenue Department claimed that it is a general practice to conduct first punchnama or initial survey of loss of crops to be taken after October 15 and final punchnama be conducted after November 15. The state government cannot declare the list of drought-prone areas till the final punchanama is conducted.

Source: India Today

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