Following a severe drought in Marathwada this year, Dr. Rajendra Singh, environmental activist and an expert on water, said on Tuesday that there was a need to conduct an awareness campaign among farmers about crop planning, and the need to move away from sugarcane cultivation during such times.
Speaking at ‘Badalta Maharashtra,’ an event organised by Loksatta and TJSB Bank with the aid of Regency Group and Kesari, Singh urged activists from the region to take up such a campaign and said that he will fully support it.
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“We should establish a link between water availability and crop patterns, and along with water resources, should also plan for appropriate planning of water usage to move towards sustainable development. When there is scarcity of drinking water in a region like Marathwada, how can sugarcane be cultivated there? What is more important?,” wondered Singh, also known as the waterman of India.
The Maharashtra government was earlier mulling banning sugarcane cultivation and crushing in drought-affected Marathwada, as these activities require large amounts of water from dams, rivers and borewells. However, following showers during the returning monsoon, the government decided to allow sugarcane crushing this year from October 15.
Singh will embark on an environment awareness campaign from December 1-5 in the Konkan region, and said a similar drive could be conduc-ted in Vidarbha and Marathwada too.Singh, who recently won the ‘Stockholm Water Prize,’ said, “It is because of the lack of appropriate water management and planning that Maharashtra has the highest number of farmers committing suicides despite having 40 percent of the total dams in the country.”