Fearing possible clashes over water in drought-affected Marathwada and western Maharashtra regions, police have been asked to remain alert and step up their presence on the streets in these areas.
"The water problem is very severe in some regions of the state. Furious over the problems, people may lose temper and this may lead to clashes. So, there is a need to have a strategy in place to tackle such situations. Instructions have been issued to policemen in these regions to be alert and ensure law and order prevails," said an officer at Maharashtra police headquarters here.
Anticipating no immediate relief, some people from drought-hit rural areas have started migrating to cities like Mumbai, Pune and adjoining states in search of livelihood.
Police fear that water shortage might snowball into a law and order problem.
"Police have also been instructed that in the case of protests, they should exercise utmost restraint and resort to cane-charge only in extreme cases. If the situation spins out of control, the cops on spot should wait for orders of their seniors before taking the next step," the officer said.
Ahmednagar, Solapur, Satara, Sangli, Aurangabad, Beed, Jalna and Osmanabad are among over a dozen districts facing drought, said to be worse that the one Maharashtra saw in 1972.