Devendra Fadnavis issues relief measures as Maharashtra battles drought

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Pune | Published: May 10, 2019 7:36:16 AM

Water reserves across Maharashtra dropped to an alarming level — below 19% which is an 11.5% decline over last year.

The situation is likely to worsen in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions where storage levels have depleted to 5 and 10%, respectively.

Water reserves across Maharashtra dropped to an alarming level — below 19% which is an 11.5% decline over last year. Around 8.51% live storage is left in dams, 8.5 lakh livestock is in fodder camps and 12,000 villages and hamlets are depending on water tankers. The number of tankers used in the past week of April is the highest with 4,779 tankers have been used so far, of which 1,000 being sent to Aurangabad alone.

In October, the state government had declared a drought in 151 of 358 tehsils — nearly half the state. In Marathwada, the worst-hit region, water levels in eight of nine reservoirs have hit zero. The last time this happened was four years ago.

In a series of tweets posted on Twitter last week, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis stated that Guardian ministers had been asked to visit affected areas. According to him, 1,264 fodder camps for 8.5 lakh livestock have been set up, tankers have been deployed to 12,116 villages; 4,412.57 crore have been deposited in 68 lakh farmers’ accounts; and 1,100 crore have been disbursed as crop insurance.

According to the state’s water resource department, dams in Marathwada have only 4.92% water left. Across the state, only 17.04% water is left in dams. Last year, around the same time, the state’s dams had 29.55% water, while Marathwada had 25.54% water. About 82 lakh farmers are affected by the drought, as per reports.

The situation is likely to worsen in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions where storage levels have depleted to 5 and 10%, respectively.

Data from the agriculture ministry reveal that Maharashtra and Karnataka are facing a severe drought situation this year. As many as 24 from 30 districts in Karnataka and 26 from 36 districts in Maharashtra are reeling under water scarcity.

In Maharashtra, more than 85.76 lakh hectare have been hit, that means 44 % of the total affected area in the country. The state government had asked for Rs 7,522-crore aid, saying that more divisions could be added to the list of drought-affected districts.

The Centre has approved Rs 4,714 crore as aid to the state. According to the state government, 68 lakh farmers have been given drought relief funds and steps are being taken to ensure that affected farmers get their crop insurance claim without any delay.

CM Fadnavis took stock of the drought situation in Aurangabad and Jalna districts on Wednesday evening and asked officials to come up with mitigation measures within 48 hours. “The officers concerned will take note of complaints and resolve the issue at the earliest. They will submit a report to me directly,” he said.
Between October and November 2018, the state government declared drought in more than half the villages in 151 tehsils and 318 revenue circles, making these areas eligible for relief packages and revenue benefits.

The government’s statistics showed that apart from the Marathwada region, 12 water reservoirs in different regions – Amravati (Khadakpurna and Pentakli dams), Nagpur (Gosikhurd and Dina dams), Nashik (Bham, Tisgaon, Bhavali and Punegaon dams), Pune (Ghod, Pimpalgaon, JogeTemghar and Bhima dams) – have also gone dry and have created acute shortage in the adjoining areas.

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