OVER 42,000 animals continue to remain at state-funded fodder camps in Beed and Osmanabad districts of Marathwada, in areas where scarcity of water and fodder is still acute. While the state government had earlier instructed collectors to allow fodder camps to stay open until August 31 wherever necessary, officials said the government has now permitted these to remain functional through September as well, owing to the poor rainfall in some parts of Marathwada and the consequent water and fodder scarcity.
As of August 28, according to information from the state government, 47 fodder camps are operational in Beed district, including 40 in the drought-prone Ashti taluka, which has recorded an average of only 198.8 mm rain since the start of the current monsoon season, or 60.2 per cent of its normal for this time of the year. Five camps are functional in Gevrai taluka, where average rain recorded for the season until now is 230.1 mm, or 50.8 per cent of normal.
“Farmers in this region observe Pola on Saturday, an important festival to honour bulls. But this year’s Pola is a strange event — the animals are in the fodder camp, there isn’t enough water to wash them,” said Sopan Chavan, a farmer in Beed taluka. “The government is probably going to have to keep fodder camps running through the monsoon and winter through next summer,” he added.
Earlier this week, dozens of farmers marched to the district collector’s office in Osmanabad, demanding fodder camps that had been shut down after the onset of the monsoon be re-started. As many as 16 fodder camps are still functional across Osmanabad, nine of them in Paranda and five in Bhum, both drought-prone talukas. Average rainfall recorded in Paranda and Bhum since the start of this season is 196 mm and 227.8 mm, respectively.
Officials confirmed that planning for the anticipated severe scarcities of water and fodder for the coming months has begun. “Beed’s average rainfall is 690 mm. Last year, we received 350 mm, and this year until now, we have received just less than 200 mm rain,” said Astik Kumar Pandey, Beed district collector. “Obviously, the water scarcity is acute and we expect it to become worse after December-January, and we will be on our toes,” said Pandey. The collector added that the district administration is planning to dig 600 wells in the submergence zones of minor dam projects, which could serve as a source of water in coming months. Rationing of water, to be supplied for drinking water only, from other dams is also being planned — from Sina dam for Ashti and Patoda talukas, from Majalgaon dam for Majalgaon, Dharur and Wadvani talukas and from Manjra dam for Ambajogai and Kaij.
Meanwhile, across the Marathwada region, 1,060 villages and 180 hamlets — mostly located in Beed, Aurangabad, Osmanabad and Jalna districts — continue to be supplied water by tankers.
As many as 1,345 tankers are currently operational in Marathwada. Officials said the continued operation of fodder camps and the large number of water tankers at the end of August is unprecedented.