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Maharashtra braces for water crisis

Water sources dry up in three Marathwada districts; government revives fodder camps.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: August 12, 2015 11:38:12 am

An extended dry spell has depleted water sources in several parts of the state. Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse on Tuesday said water sources had almost entirely dried up in three districts, Latur, Beed, and Osmanabad, in the worst-hit Marathwada region, triggering a serious drinking water crisis.

Following a specially convened meeting of a cabinet sub-committee where water supply was deliberated, Khadse said, “We decided to evoke a contingency plan to deal with the crisis.”

The cabinet committee decided to reserve dam water for supply of drinking water. While the government has pressed 1,751 tankers  into service for supplying  water to 1,340 villages and 2,362 hamlets, the cabinet sub-committee on Tuesday eased norms for tanker water supply further. “The cap that the tanker water will be supplied within 50 km of the water sources may be relaxed for areas where no water is available within the prescribed limit,” Khadse said.


Official statistics show that Beed is the most dependent on tanker water, followed by Osmanabad and Latur (City). Khadse said the water situation was grave in Latur. “We have decided to use railway wagons to transport water from the Ujni dam in Pandharpur to Latur,” Khadse said.

The Indian Express had been the first to highlight the government’s plan to transport water to Latur through railway wagons last week.

In Marathwada, the water availability has dwindled to 7 per cent. Official records show that around the same time last year, dams contained 19 per cent water. The total water availability in all dams in Maharashtra was 44 pc on Monday. It was 60 pc around the same time last year.

The government has decided to extend rain seeding experiment from 100 hours to 200 hours in three months starting August.

Khadse said that such experiments have been encouraging, with local precipitation witnessed in several areas where cloud seeding was carried out. “One such experiment in Ahmednagar’s Shegaon taluka brought 33 mm rainfall,” he added.

The government is also bracing for a fodder shortage. “We have decided to set up fodder camps. Powers in this regard have been handed to collectors,” Khadse said.

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