The state government has scrapped its cloud seeding plan this monsoon owing to the satisfactory rainfall in last three weeks across the state, barring four districts. Although officials and experts favoured the rain-inducing technology in catchment areas, the political leadership opposed it.
After the cabinet approval, the state government had shortlisted Khyati-Weather Modification for spray sorties for about 100 hours at the cost of Rs30 crore.
The firm had last year undertaken seeding for 113 hours with rainfall of 1,381mm by spending Rs 28 crore.
Though the government had shortlisted the company in May, the above-normal rains prediction made the government put the plan on the backburner. With about 75% to 100% rains in 32 districts, the government has decided to scrap the proposal.
“After satisfactory rains, we decided to shelve the cloud seeding plan. The department has proposed to cancel the plan, but the final decision has to be taken by the CM,” Suhas Diwase, said director of the disaster management cell.
The three bidders who have deposited Rs25 lakh each will be refunded soon.Experts and officials from the department were of the opinion that notwithstanding satisfactory rain, the cloud seeding was necessary.
“We have certain talukas that are perennially drought-prone despite good showers. The expenditure on the cloud seeding is much lesser than that of on water and fodder supply in drought-hit areas. We were planning to attempt the cloud seeding in catchment areas of dams supplying water to the drought-hit areas,” said an official from Mantralaya.
As per the latest figures collated by the state agriculture department, barring Solapur in western Maharashtra, and Beed, Latur and Osmanabad in Marathwada, rest of the districts have received the rainfall above 75% till date.
Seeding is a form of weather modification to induce rains over dams or catchment areas. Sorties are flown over them to spray a water-salt solution. Usually rain falls within half an hour of seeding, experts say. However, the jury is still out to see if the technology can get additional rain.