Maharashtra gears to tackle worsening drought situation

A farmer looks at damaged grapes due to water scarcity, at Peertakali Village in Solapur, on May 11, 2019. PTI

With summer in full swing and mercury soaring, the drought situation in Marathwada and Vidarbha in Maharashtra is worsening as the water levels in the dams in the two big geographical regions are depleting.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is reviewing the situation on a daily basis and has asked district guardian secretaries to ensure the drought mitigation plans.

Fadnavis has also instructed that the employment guarantee scheme (EGS) works should start without any delay. Secretaries have been asked to submit a detailed report by May 21 to the chief minister's office (CMO).

According to officials, as part of the drought-relief measures, 1,264 fodder camps for 8.5 lakh livestock have been set up, more than 5,000 tankers have been deployed to 12,000-odd villages, Rs 4,412.57 crores have been deposited in 68 lakh farmers' accounts and Rs 1,100 crores has been disbursed as crop insurance.

Across Maharashtra, only 16.38% of water is left in the dams, while in the worst drought-affected Marathwada, only 4.87% of water is left in all its reservoirs.

Nine major reservoirs in Marathwada have just 0.7% water stock left in them. These reservoirs are — Paithan, Manjara, Yeldari, Siddeshwar, Majalgaon, Lower Terna, Lower Manar, Sina Kolegaon and Lower Dudhana. Water stocks in Jayakwadi, the biggest reservoir, too would not last long.

Nearly 21,000 villages in the state are hit, as the state declared drought in 151 tehsils, 318 revenue circles and 4,518 villages — nearly half of the geographical area of Maharashtra.

Opposition parties Congress and NCP have accused the government of failing to tackle the drought situation.

Former Union agriculture minister and NCP president Sharad Pawar is currently touring the Marathwada region, while Congress leaders will also be visiting the affected areas. Pawar is also planning to meet Fadnavis and discuss the issue.

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