Drought-like situation declared in 180 tehsils

Drought-like situation declared in 180 tehsils

In at least 3,342 villages of Maharashtra, the groundwater level has dropped by over 3 meters

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday declared drought-like situation in 180 tehsils - roughly half the geographical area of the state. 

There are a total of 358 tehsils spread across 36 districts in five regions - Konkan, Western Maharashtra, North Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha. 
"We have declared drought-like situation in 180 tehsils," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said after a weekly Cabinet meeting. 

"These villages were selected after strictly following scientific norms of government of India. Also, various mitigation measures will be implemented in these villages from today (Tuesday)," the Chief Minister said, adding the drought condition is because the state received less than 77% of average rainfall. 

He said that the government is undertaking various efforts to assist the affected farmers, including providing concessions and waiver.  

A Central team would visit soon for a first-hand assessment of the situation.  According to reports, Marathwada, North Maharashtra and Vidarbha were worst-affected - as the majority of the tehsils fall in these three regions. 

The Groundwater Survey and Development Agency, a wing of the  Water Resources Department in Maharashtra, in its report has said that in at least 3,342 villages of Maharashtra, the groundwater level has dropped by over 3 meters, while in 3,430 villages the level of groundwater has reduced by 2 to 3 meters. In 7,212 villages in Maharashtra, the groundwater level has reduced by over 1 metre.

However, the Opposition parties Congress and NCP  are unhappy over the government's response. "Why drought-like situation and not drought...the government should not play with words - 'drought-like', 'scarcity-like'," Maharashtra Congress President and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan wanted to know. 

The leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde of the NCP said that the situation compounded from August when there were no rains. "We need to do panchanama of the fields and immediately announce a compensation of Rs 50,000 per hectare," he said. 

Fadnavis, however, has rejected the Opposition charge. "The Congress is insulting farmers and villagers who toiled hard to make Jalyukt Shivar scheme a success and made their villages drought-free. This scheme means there should be water (for conservation) even if there is less rain. It does not mean there will be water if there are no rains," he said.
"Maharashtra has seen many droughts but it is the first time when a drought is being declared in October. The Centre has adopted scientific norms for the declaration of drought," he said, adding that the government was doing all possible to help out the farmers.