Maharashtra drought worsens, state feels heat
From October-November, the state declared drought in more than half the villages in 151 tehsils and 318 revenue circles, giving them special relief packages and revenue benefits. With each passing day, water sources are drying up and fodder scarcity is becoming severe.Updated: May 02, 2019, 06:40 IST
With all four phases of polling over in Maharashtra, drought, which is intensifying in the state, is expected to take centrestage in politics and administration.
While the government has convened a special cabinet to review the situation, the Opposition plans to build pressure to seek relief.
From October-November, the state declared drought in more than half the villages in 151 tehsils and 318 revenue circles, giving them special relief packages and revenue benefits. With each passing day, water sources are drying up and fodder scarcity is becoming severe. The water stock level has dropped to 19.63%, against 32.6% on the same day last year.
In Marathwada (central Maharashtra), the worst-hit in the state, the water level in all reservoirs has dropped to 5.27%. Of its nine major reservoirs, the water level has dropped to zero in eight, including the largest dam — Jayakwadi.
Last year, on the same day, the average water stock in
964 dams in the region was 30.46%.
Besides Marathwada, 10 reservoirs in other regions such as Amravati (Khadakpurna and Pentakli dams), Nagpur (Gosikhurd and Dina dams), Nashik (Bham and Punegaon dams), Pune (Ghod, Pimpalgaon, JogeTemghar and Bhima dams), too, have also dried up, creating acute water shortage. The state water resources department released the data this week.
To deal with the situation, the state has deployed 4,774 water tankers to provide drinking water to the affected areas. Of these, 2,534 tankers provide drinking water to eight districts of Marathwada, according to a senior official from the water supply and sanitation department. “The number of water tankers is going to increase in the coming days,” he said.
Across the state, 1,000 tankers are deployed in Aurangabad alone, followed by Beed with 761 tankers.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has convened a special meeting of state cabinet on Thursday, so that the government can go ahead with the relief work. The CM on Tuesday requested the Election Commission to relax the model code of conduct for the meet.
“The drought situation will be reviewed in the cabinet. As it is a routine review meeting, without any policy decision, we don’t think it violates the code of conduct,” said UPS Madan, chief secretary, Maharashtra.
With the state going to Assembly polls in the next five months, the government and Opposition are focusing on the drought in rural areas. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has already started touring drought-affected areas.
On Tuesday, he visited a village from Solapur district. The tour has been temporarily suspended owing to the death of NCP MLA Hanuman Dolas from Malshiras.
Another NCP leader and leader of Opposition in the state council Dhananjay Munde asked the government to boost mitigation measures. Munde said, “Many areas such as Parli city and Chandapur of Beed district are facing acute water shortage. We want the state to get water for the affected areas. This can be done by taking up new water schemes and reviving old and defunct water supply schemes.”
State water resources minister Girish Mahajan, too, admitted the drought and water crisis have become serious, but they are doing their best to
cope. “The state has declared drought in the affected villages. The Centre has also released funds for mitigation measures. After the review of the situation in the cabinet meeting on Thursday, we will do everything required to give relief to the people,” Mahajan said.
On Tuesday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray called a meeting of party office-bearers to discuss drought, said a party leader.
On the occasion of Maharashtra Day (May 1), the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray urged citizens to create a pressure group to ensure the state tackles drought and unemployment better.