The drought in central Maharashtra illustrates the idiom ‘man proposes, god disposes’ but in this case man’s proposal is so flawed that it has only served to worsen the water crisis.
For instance, central Maharashtra’s eight districts are home to 11 major irrigation projects — more than enough for the region — but today seven of these projects are dry.
A collective failure of the political-executive leadership has only aggravated the water crisis. In villages, the government created a rural water supply system but with no water source.
“Many villages have overhead tanks and pipelines, but no water. The schemes were completed in haste to claim bills,” said a state government official in Beed.
With no water from dams, farmers are digging borewells at an alarming pace, which will affect the ground water table. The government has no control over this free supply of water.
People are comparing the situation to a drought in 1972, which the political leadership handled with active participation from people. “Then political leaders and officials reached out to the aam aadmi. But now we hardly see them. We’re told they are in meetings,” said Bapurao Chaudhari, 91, a former sarpanch from Beed district.
Former chairman of Osmanabad Municipal Council, irrigation and agriculture expert and Congressman, Nanasaheb Patil, blamed his own party. “The government is not at all serious. I strongly feel this government doesn’t have money to uplift us,” he said, adding that farmers needed to conserve water too.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, on Wednesday, said district administrations have been asked to identify water sources in each village, town and its adjoining areas. Chavan is expected to visit the region soon.
Areas that get piped water are suffering too. Homes and industries in Aurangabad, Jalna city and tehsil headquarters of Paithan, Ambad, Gevrai and 150 villages get piped water from Jaikwadi, which has only 6.5% usable stock. This will not suffice unless dams from upper Godavari release water. These places get water once in three to 15 days and have to buy water at high rates. The government has hired 1,300 tankers to supply water and more will come.
DB Soni of Rajuri Steel Pvt. Ltd, said a scientific survey is needed. “We can’t beat nature. We need to adjust and plan around it,” he said.