Almost 50 per cent of the state is scarcity-hit.
The state government on Wednesday added three more tehsils to its list of scarcity-hit areas, taking the total to 161 — almost half of Maharashtra’s total 355 tehsils.
Notifying an area as scarcity-hit is the step before announced it as drought-hit.
The government will wait till the official monsoon season is over and then announce drought in the affected areas.
A Cabinet sub-committee, headed by Revenue Minister Patangrao Kadam, reviewed the situation and added three more tehsils to the list of scarcity-hit areas on Wednesday.
Last week, the sub-committee had added 29 tehsils to the list. The state has already sought Rs 500 crore from the Centre for relief measures and has approved Rs 650 crore from its own kitty.
The entire central Maharashtra (Marathwada) and two districts of eastern Vidarbha are the worst hit.
Some regions in Western Maharashtra, where irrigation facility is not available, have also been declared “scarcity-hit like”.
The Cabinet is expected to take a larger view of the situation at its weekly meeting on Thursday because Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is expected to get directions from the UPA high command.
In view of the acute water shortage, the state government has decided to reserve water in all its dams for drinking and farming purposes till July 2010.
Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar said the current average level of all dams (reservoirs) was 46 per cent.
“In the corresponding period last year, the average level was 58 per cent,” he said.
Even the reservoirs have not accumulated enough water this year because of less rainfall. And this will result in very low hydropower generation.
Energy Minister Sunil Tatkare said the hydel projects would be run very selectively this year.