Almost half of Maharashtra has been declared drought-hit with farmers from across the state seeking emergency help. Distressed farmers came to Mumbai demanding drought declaration and seeking relief from the state. The state reportedly received only 77 per cent of its average rainfall this year.
Drought was declared in as many as 180 of the 350 tehsils in the state. "There is drought everywhere. Farmers, labourers, adivasis have no water to drink. There's no work anywhere" said Maruti Konkani, a farmer from Nandurbar district in Maharashtra.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, "There is definitely a drought-like situation in 180 of the total 350 talukas in Maharashtra. The government will publish a Government Resolution (GR) so that the concerned departments can immediately implement relief measures to tackle the situation".
He said that the government has announced various relief measures including electricity bill waiver for agriculture, water supply through tankers, and waiver in education fees. Farmers, however, want the government to declare complete drought in the state.
The opposition Congress slammed the BJP-led government over the issue, demanding that it should declare drought in the state. "The state government should straightway announce 'drought' and stop the word play wherein it is using terms like 'scarcity-like' or 'drought-like,'" Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said.
Speaking to NDTV on the situation, Public Works Department Minister Eknath Shinde said, "Government has declared relief measures today for drought. Be it water, fodder for animals, water tankers, etc. everything will be provided."
The data from water resource department reveals that Maharashtra dams are running very low on water. For instance, Manjara Dam in Marathwada has 0 per cent water as on October 10. Pench Totaladoh dam in Nagpur has 23 per cent water.
October Groundwater Survey report released by the government reveals that around 17,000 villages in Maharashtra has around 1 mt depletion in ground water levels
On rainfall, the IMD report says 197 tehsils received less than normal rainfall in Maharashtra. Of these, 27 recorded more than 50 per cent deficit rainfall, 109 had 30-50 per cent deficit rainfall and 61 villages recorded 20-30 per cent deficit in rainfall. Also, 86 tehsils recorded 0-20 per cent deficit in their average rainfall. With the next monsoon nine months away and the state staring at water scarcity, it will be difficult for the citizens, farmers and citizens to cope with this situation.
(With inputs from PTI)