Maharshtra – 2012 drought worse than in 1972; study blames govt mishandling


Ketaki Ghoge , Hindustan times , April 4, 2013

MUMBAI: The drought looming in one-third of the state has been compared to that in 1972. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, among others, termed it as worse than the one the state faced 40 years back.

The answer to this remark can be traced more to the government’s failure in agriculture and water management than nature’s wrath.

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), a network of organisations working on water- related issues, compared and analysed rainfall figures from June to October in 1972 and 2012 in 17 drought-affected districts and found that rainfall in 1972 was much lower than in 2012 for every month except June.

The figures show that in 2012, eight districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, none in July, three districts had 50% deficit rainfall in August, one district in September and two districts in October.

In 1972, three districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, nine districts in July, nine in August, six in September and 17 in October.

In 1971 too, rainfall was low. But in 2011, the rainfall was above average and most of the dams were full.

SANDRP argued that in the intervening 40 years, Maharashtra has been able to build big dams and it should have been able to store more water and reduce the impact of rainfall deficit. However, big dams starting with Jayakwadi, Ujani and Dudhana have nearly 0 % live storage as of now.

One of the reasons that SANDRP attributes this to is sugarcane farming. Overall, the area under sugarcane in Maharashtra increased from 167,000 hectares in 1972 to 102,2000 hectares in 2012. “Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Jalna, Osmanabad, Beed, Latur, Nasik, Parbhani and Aurangabad , all drought prone and drought affected districts of the state, are also major sugarcane producing districts. They collectively produce 79.5 % of sugarcane of Maharashtra and more than a quarter of sugarcane production of the country in 2012,” said Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP. The repeated drought cycle has not stopped farmers from taking up sugarcane farming and the government has failed to put any restrictions on this waterguzzling farming or control water releases upstream from the big dams.

Research by South Asia

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

 

Who really killed Baby Mohite?


Published: Sunday, Jan 29, 2012,
By Javed Iqbal | Agency: DNA

The residents of Bhim Chhaya at Vikhroli have been on an indefinite dharna since November 19, 2011. While they have been demanding land rights and a right to a home as per the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojna, they have also been demanding justice for the death of 14-month-old Jayesh Mohite who drowned in one of the miasmic ditches dug by civic authorities to prevent further ‘encroachment’.

The Vikhroli police, at the behest of angry residents, included the names of Mumbai suburban collector Nirmalkumar Deshmukh and deputy collector Shivajirao Davbhat in the First Information Report (FIR), charging them under Section 299, 304 as well as Section 304A, which states, “whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.”

The officials filed for anticipatory bail in the courts and the deputy commissioner of police cleared the officials of the charges and instead submitted a three-page report detailing how the boy’s family are encroachers and anti-social elements.

Yet, before they were ‘encroachers’, in May 2011 the government had relented to a 9-day hunger strike by social activist Medha Patkar that had demanded, besides investigating fraud in the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, to declare 19 settlements as slums under Section 5 of the Maharashtra Slum Area Act. Bhim Chhaya was one of them.

The right of a settlement to be called a slum would’ve given them rights and protected them from further demolition drives; the settlement was demolished repeatedly “from 2001, almost every year”, according to suburban deputy collector Shivajirao Davbhat. The government, however, relegated on its promise and the settlement was exposed to demolitions once again when on November 16, 2011, bulldozers arrived and ran through the settlement, burning down some homes, while ditches were dug up to make the land uninhabitable.

A little less than a month later, on December 12, Jayesh Mohite drowned in a ditch that wouldn’t have existed if the government had kept its word.

Builder lobby involved too


More….

Read article in DNA here

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