It is the first week of April and the Jayakwadi dam, the biggest in the state that caters to the worst drought-hit districts of Marathwada region, has a live water stock of 66.78 per cent. Exactly a year ago, in April, its live water storage stood at zero.
After five years of recurrent drought, Maharashtra seems to be set for a summer with little or no water woes bringing much relief to farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha, especially at a time when the entire state is fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Three dams in Buldhana, among of one the worst drought-affected districts in the cotton-growing belt, is full with water — Khadakpurna Dam has 50.52 per cent live water stock, a year ago it was zero; in Nalganga dam water storage stands at 91 per cent, from 10 per cent recorded in the same period last year; and Pentakali Dam, which had zero water stock in April last year, now is 82 per cent water stock. The 3,267 dams across the state that have a capacity to hold 40,898 million cubic metres of water, have an average live water stock of 21,944 mcum or 53.65 per cent, which is almost double from the previous year’s 26.95 per cent.
“We are confident that the state will not experience drought this year. There shouldn’t be any reason for water scarcity on the domestic front or for the agriculture sector this summer,” state water resources minister Jayant Patil said. Summer official begins from early March and lasts till early June in the state.
In the last five years, Maharashtra has witnessed recurring drought. Last year, of the 355 talukas in the state, 315 were declared drought affected. The crisis had compounded as major dams in the state went dry.
Agriculture department officials believe the unseasonable rains, coupled with a longer winter, helped to retain higher water level in dams. In addition, water conservation work under Jalyukta Shivar in last five years have helped to tackle drought.
A region-wise data for April this year reveals, Marathwada with 964 dams has 46.4 per cent water stock, a huge jump from previous year’s 5.68 per cent. In Amravati division, Vidarbha with 446 dams has recorded 48.3 per cent water compared to last year’s 27.22 per cent. Water stock in 176 dams of Konkan is 59.94 per cent higher than 47.31 per cent recorded last year.
Nagpur division with 384 dams, has 54.64 per cent water stock, a leap from last year’s 14 per cent. Nashik region with 571 dams has 55.15 per cent water compared this to last year’s 23.11 per cent. Pune division with 726 dams has water stock 56.31 per cent, almost double from previous year’s 37.92 per cent.
In dams, where water level had touched zero in April last year, have witnessed a spike in water level the same month this year — in Gosikhurd dam, water level rose from 1.51 per cent to 23.69 per cent; Totladoh dam in Nagpur region has seen an increase from 5.1 per cent to 86.23 per cent; Lower Wardha saw a rise from 9.28 per cent to 64.73 per cent; Mula dam in Ahmednagar saw an increase from 16.12 per cent to 74.86 per cent. Water level in Ujjani dam, which is a lifeline of drought-hit Solapur district, has 47 per cent water, as compared to zero last April.
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