• Drought Back in Headlines in Maharashtra

    The state is going through an unprecedented drought where just 19.35% of water is left in the state’s reservoirs, forcing literally lakhs of people to come out in search of water

    Amey Tirodkar

    May 7, 2019

    This photograph from Surgana tehsil of Nasik district in North Maharashtra is doing the rounds on social media. As is another video, where women go down a well with the help of a rope to get a pot of water. These pictures from all over Maharashtra are deeply shaking the state. The state is going through an unprecedented drought where just 19.35% of water is left in the state’s reservoirs, forcing literally lakhs of people to come out in search of water.

    According to the state government information, 4,774 water tankers are supplying water to people in 182 tehsils of 23 districts right now. Almost 9 lakh cattle are in 1,276 fodder camps. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had made a request to the Election Commission of India to give some relief from the Model Code of Conduct as the government has to start drought related works, which the EC has granted. The most severely affected region is Marathwada followed by North Maharashtra andVidarbha.

    The dwindling stock of water is the biggest worry before the state machinery right now. As per data released by the state government, as of last week, only 19.35% of water is left in state’s reservoirs. Last year, it was 30.84% around same time. Aurangabad region is the worst hit in state with just 5.14% water against 28.2% last year. Second is Nagpur where only 10.17% water has left against 15.91% previous year. In Nasik region, only 17.78% water is left against 32.66% last year.

    Cities in Marathwada like Latur, Ausa, Dharur, Beed and Jalana are getting water only once a week. Even Aurangabad city is getting water only once in three days. The planning of water supply in Marathwada and North Maharashtra has totally failed and people are suffering everywhere.

    Meanwhile, the state government is also under heavy criticism for failing to provide necessary help to people during drought. “MGNREGA work are still not being cleared. Investment on works like micro irrigation would help to prevent migration from rural to urban area, which is currently happening everywhere in Maharashtra. Also, it would help in water conservation. But despite MGNREGA being an act, it is being neglected everywhere,” said activist Ashwini Kulkarni.

    Opposition parties have slammed the state government for failure in relief work. “The people in government have forgotten their responsibility. When our chief Sharad Pawar went to meet drought affected people on the voting day itself, then the state government remembered its responsibility. We expect immediate financial assistance to farmers and immediate work for labourers,” said Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik. Congress state chief Ashok Chavan said that the priorities of BJP–Shiv Sena leaders are clear. “They just want votes. They are careless that it’s their duty to help people and put the entire state machinery to the purpose of providing relief to drought affected people. Instead, they were busy using it for political gains,” said Ashok Chavan.

    However, CM Fadnavis has assured all necessary help. “We have already released Rs 4,412 crore to 68 lakh farmers who lost their crops due to drought. There are total 82 lakh farmers and rest will get their amount soon. Also, Rs 3,200 crore will be released under the Pradhanmantri Fasal Bima Yojana to farmers in next some days,” he said.

    Voting in Maharashtra concluded on the fourth phase on April 29. Though the state has reeling under drought for last six months, the political happening in last three months had overshadowed the drought coverage in news media. But with elections, it is important to bring back drought to news.


     

    First published in Newsclick.

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