With the water level in the dams in Maharashtra reaching its lowest since 2010, the state is staring at an acute water scarcity for the second year in a row. Worried, the state government now plans to start cloud-seeding experiments within a week.
In the past five years, the water levels have been lower only in 2012, the year the state had declared a drought situation.
The state has received only 30% of the average rain expected in July. As on August 4, 138 of the 353 talukas in the state have received only 50% of its average rain, while 266 talukas have received only 75% of the average rain.
Currently, the state has 11,604 million cubic metres in its major dams, much lower than last year’s figure -- 15,458 million cubic metres -- for the corresponding period. In 2013, the water reserve in the state was 20,310 million cubic metres.
The situation will make the agrarian crisis worse. While the erratic rain spoiled the first round of sowing by farmers in June, the dry spell in July made sowing difficult last month. It could also lead to a rise in the number of farmer suicides. The Marathwada region is the worst hit – with the water levels in all major dams at 356 million cubic metres, compared to last year's 1,068 million cubic metres.
Suhas Divse, director of the state disaster management cell, said, “The delayed rain is making the situation worse by the day.” “According to the India Meteorological Department, the state is likely to witness a dry spell this week. The state might witness rain around August 15,” said another official from the cell.
Taking note of the situation, relief and rehabilitation minister Eknath Khadse and department secretary KH Govindraj were on Tuesday sent to Aurangabad, where the aerial cloud seeding experiments will be conducted. The experiments, officials said, are likely to be held after August 9, when the dry spell ends. However, sources said Khadse is keen to start them at the earliest, even though the special Doppler radar required to detect cloud formation is yet to arrive.