Maharashtra faces worst drought in 40 years #wakeup


By, TNN | Mar 9, 2013,

Maharashtra faces worst drought in 40 years
A high-ranking bureaucrat said situation in five districts—Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed and Osmanbad—is so bad that the existing drinking water will last only till the end of this month.
MUMBAI: Summer may still be a couple of months away but in 3,905 villages in 12 districts of Marathwada and western Maharashtra, faced with one of the worst droughts since 1972, people have started migrating to Mumbai and neighbouring Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

A high-ranking bureaucrat said situation in five districts—Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed and Osmanbad—is so bad that the existing drinking water will last only till the end of this month. “For the state political leadership and bureaucracy, it will be a real testing time. After March, we will have to transport water to these areas either from neighbouring districts or even by trains from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,” he said.

But the official said that unlike 1972, when the state had to face shortage of foodgrains and unemployment too, this time around it is only water that is in scarcity.

“We have adequate foodgrains stock. In 1972, 30 lakh villagers had reported for work under the employment guarantee scheme. Now, against the availability of 20 lakh jobs, only 2 lakh villagers have sought work. We are providing work to all,” he said.

But he admitted that the available water in dams is grim. In the badly-affected Marathwada region, on Thursday, only 9% water was left in the dams compared with 30 per cent last year. In western Maharashtra, the stock is 32 per cent against 40 per cent last year. Significantly, situation in Vidarbha, north Maharashtra and Konkan appears to be better.

On the financial assistance from the Centre, the bureaucrat said, under the National Disaster Response Fund, against the demand of Rs 1,800 crore, the state has so far received Rs 778 crore and now a fresh proposal for financial assistance of Rs 2,200 crore has been submitted. “A central team was here last week. We have argued our case. We expect the empowered group of ministers will come to our rescue,” he said.

The bureaucrat pointed out that the state was facing such a situation owing to extreme exploitation of ground water. “Look at the history of the state. Once in a decade, we are facing drought, but we have not learnt lessons. We are overdrawing underground water. We have concentration of sugar factories in Solapur and Osmanabad, as a result, there was highest consumption of water in these districts,” he said.

 

Maharashtra -Ready to risk anything for water #mustread


Swatee Kher : Osmanabad, Wed Feb 20 2013, 11:57 hrs

Sitting beside a well in Pimpri village, a metal pot at his feet, 70-year-old Vaman Bidbaug hopes he will meet a passerby willing to climb down the well’s 110 steps and fetch him a potful of water. Bidbaug, a farmer, owns about four acres, but hasn’t sown for two seasons.

Nearly 1,500 villagers of Pimpri, 18 km from Osmanabad city, climb down the steep steps along the walls every morning and evening to fill two pots. With two consecutively poor monsoons, it is the only well in the village still left with any water. Villagers often trip on the steps and injure themselves, but that is a small price to pay.

“We don’t expect good rainfall here, but through my life I have never seen rivers and wells going dry as they are now. We had water in the other wells even when it did not rain in 2002, and earlier,” says Bidbaug.

The drought across the state has hit 7,064 villages, with 11 of 35 districts having received less than 75 per cent of normal rainfall.

Bidbaug’s two sons gave up on farming years ago and migrated to cities, a trend in the perenially parched Osmanabad, Beed and Jalna regions. In Gandhora of Osmanabad district, Dasu Parshuram Ade, 23, is preparing to move to Pune or Satara, having sold his two bullocks at Rs 30,000 each. He had bought each at Rs 1 lakh in 2009, after a good sugarcane crop.

“I could not have borne to see them die, so I sold them. Now I’m free to go,” he says. “I hope to earn enough there so that my family can buy water from tankers here.”

Water is disappearing from the rivers, wells and reservoirs of Maharashtra‘s heartland, 13 districts across Marathwada, parts of Western Maharashtra and Khandesh. Jayakwadi, the largest dam in Maharashtra, has no live storage. Put together, reservoirs in Maharashtra are just 40 per cent full now with levels expected to keep falling.

The state has drawn extreme plans for the extreme crisis, including transporting water through rail wagons or shifting entire villages in Jalna, the district worst hit with rainfall less than 25 per cent of normal. The crisis there extends beyond the rural interiors and up to Jalna city. The city has 45 water supply zones, and one, two or three of these (depending on size) are supplied municipal council water on any day. “This effectively means that people get water in their taps once every 20 days, for not more than an hour. People hoard up as much water as they can and, once that runs out, turn to private tankers,” says Rajesh More, engineer in the Jalna Municipal Council’s water supply department. He too depends on private tankers at home.

Tankers provided by the government visit Walki and Gunavadi villages in Ahmadnagar, the state’s largest district, once every four days and pour water into the village wells. Valmik Nagavade, sarpanch of Gunavdi, says the allotment is based on the 2001 census. “We get 20 litres per person based on the 2001 census but our families have grown in those 12 years,” he says. “We bathe on alternate days with just two litres.”

 

Rain check

7,064 of 43,722 villages declared drought-hit

Less than 25% rainfall: 5 talukas out of 355, including those in Jalna district

25-50%: 50 talukas

50-75%: 136 talukas, including those in Dhule, Jalgaon, Ahmadnagar, Pune, Solapur, Sangli, Aurangabad, Beed, Osmanabad, Nanded districts

5-year low: Storage levels in reservoirs

 

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