Large irrigation projects in drought-hit Marathwada region have now dried up completely. This has forced eight districts in the region to survive on water stock in small- and medium-sized dams and reservoirs. The average water stock of the state has dropped to 10% from 11% last week, the lowest in the recent past, with the average stock in Marathwada dipping to 1%.
Pre-monsoon showers in parts of the state, however, have given farmers hope that the state will receive sufficient rainfall this year.
The large projects, in Marathwada, such as Jayakwadi, Majalgaon, Manjara, Yeldari, Siddheshwar and Vishnupuri supplying water to Aurangabad, Nanded, Latur, Parbhani, Beed have dried up completely.
The lower Dudhana and Upper Painganga are the two large projects in the parched region to have marginal water supply.
The acute shortage of the water has resulted in the deployment of 6,118 tankers, most of them (4,003) to the eight districts of the Marathwada. Beed district has the highest — 973 — tankers supplying drinking water. More than 12,000 villages in the state are getting water from tankers.
The state cabinet, on Tuesday, took a review of the measures taken to tackle drought. The administration has also been directed to implement the scheme for the effective disbursement of crop loans to ensure farmers do not face any difficulty in sowing. The administration has also been directed to continue cattle camps until the respective districts receive sufficient rainfall.
Pre-monsoon showers in parts of Osmanabad, Beed, Aurangabad in Marathwada and a few districts in Vidarbha have helped reduce evaporation of water and sowing preparations have begun. “In some parts of the state, the rainfall recorded was up to 40 mm, which is a positive sign. The pre-monsoon showers do not help improve the depleting water level, but does bring psychological respite to the farmers. The softening of the soil owing to the showers also helps farmers prepare for cultivation,” said Suhas Diwase, director, disaster management cell of the state government.
He said the central teams that visited Marathwada, parts of western Maharashtra and Vidarbha to review the loss of crop were satisfied with the measures taken by the government. The state has demanded an additional package of Rs4,269 crore from the Centre towards compensation for the loss of Kharif and rabi crops and arrangements of water supply and cattle camps. The quantum of the drought relief will be decided by the Centre once the committees submit their reports.
The state cabinet gave an in-principle approval to the water grid scheme for Marathwada on the lines of the system implemented in the Gujarat.
The Rs3,000 crore scheme, which will be implemented over the next three years, aims at tapping additional sources of water and equitable distribution of the water across the region.
“We visited Kutch in Gujarat to study the water grid system two weeks ago. We have asked the administration to submit a report on the proposal in the next two weeks. We are interlinking the large water projects so that all the districts get sufficient water,” said water supply minister Babanrao Lonikar.