Even as recent showers this month have brought relief to water scarcity-hit districts of Marathwada and the rest of the state, it may be a case of too little and too late.
The total average rainfall in the state stands at 56.8% at the fag end of the monsoon – last year on the same day, the average rainfall in the state was 77%.
There are still around eight districts that have not yet received 50 % of the normal rainfall this year, including Solapur, Sangli, Palghar, Beed, Parbhani.
The state is likely to announce a drought-like situation in Maharashtra at the cabinet meeting to be held on Wednesday. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told HT that drought like situation would be announced for 8,000 to 14,000 villages in the state by mid-September, on the basis of the average rainfall.
“The return rains cannot make up for the loss during the main monsoon season when water was needed for the khariff crop. At the most with these rains, drinking water problem will no longer be acute. The cabinet sub-committee on drought will meet on Tuesday and a proposal will be sent to the cabinet,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, state finance minister.
The good news is that the ‘returning rains’ will reduce drinking water problem, especially in Marathwada. It could also mitigate the fodder scarcity problem for cattle.
In Marathwada’s four worse affected districts – Beed, Osmanabad, Latur and Parbhani – rains this month have increased the average rainfall percentage by nearly 10 points. (see box)
Once drought is announced, several relief measures will be rolled out for farmers including stay on repayment of loans, waiving of power bills and interest payments. The finance minister said that despite the burden on the state exchequer, there would be no cut on the relief measures for farmers. The state is unlikely to get further assistance from the Centre for drought and will have to dig deep into its pockets for this assistance. The Centre had announced Rs2,000 crore to Maharashtra as drought relief earlier in July.