WITH MONSOON almost on its way out in Maharashtra, the water levels in dams across the state have recorded a drop of 10.17 per cent, indicating that parts of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions may face droughts later in the year.
Sources in the government said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while seeking financial assistance from the Centre, has directed the state departments of revenue, water resources and agriculture to put in place a contingency plan to tackle the situation ahead.
“A team from the Centre will visit the state next month to access the situation before declaring drought,” said an official, adding that according to the Centre’s guidelines, the process of compiling taluka wise data has begun.
According to data provided by the state department of water resources, the total water stock as of now in 3,266 dams is 40,828 million cubic metres. “In terms of percentage, the figure is 64.45 per cent. Last year, it was 74.62 per cent during this corresponding period,” said the official.
The worst hit is Marathwada, with 965 dams showing water stock at 1,976 million cubic metres (26.80 per cent). Last year, the water stock in Marathwada dams was 65.49 per cent during the corresponding period.
Revenue department officials indicated that 170 of the 355 talukas are a cause of concern in Maharashtra. “Apart from the poor to moderate rainfall, the longer dry spells during monsoon — up to four weeks — has compounded the problem,” said an official.
Water management expert Dr Madhav Chitale said the mid-October water stock in dams is critical in determining how the rabi season would fare. “The water deficit of 10.17 per cent shows situation is grave. Planning and water management for rabi season will have to be taken up immediately. “
“There should be greater focus on efficient water management. The priority is always drinking water. Therefore, water allocation in agriculture and industry could be curtailed. To overcome the shortage, use of advanced technology to promote recycled water for agriculture and industry should be accorded highest priority,” Chitale said.
Among the dams where the water level is zero at present are Sinakolegaon (Osmanabad), Khadakpurna (Buldhana) and Manjara and Mazalgaon (Beed). Other dams where water level has drastically dipped are Lower Terna in Latur (36.06 per cent), Siddheshwar in Hingoli (23.07 per cent), Lower Dudhna in Parbhani (22.2 per cent) and Yeldari in Parbhani (9.45 per cent). The Nashik region, which has 570 dams, has a water stock of 3,853 million cubic metres (64.92 per cent).
Pune region has also witnessed marginal drop in water levels of dams. In all, the 726 dams in the region show water stock at 12,776 million cubic metres (83.99 per cent). At this time last year, it was 89.9 per cent.
While Konkan region with 176 dams has a stock of 3,127 million cubic metres (89.09 per cent) — a drop from last year’s 94.65 per cent — Nagpur region’s 384 dams have 2,153 million cubic metres of water (46.73 per cent). Last year, too, the percentage was 46.62 are during this time.
Amravati region with 445 dams, meanwhile, has 2,429 million cubic metres (57.94 per cent) of water stock. This is an improvement from last year’s 38.52 per cent during the corresponding period.