Large parts of Marathwada and Vidarbha continue to experience a deficient monsoon, with at least 16 of the 18 districts in the two regions receiving 20 to 59 per cent less than average rainfall for this time of the year. Aurangabad in Marathwada and Buldhana in Vidarbha are the only two districts in these regions facing a less than 20 per cent deficit — there is a seven per cent deficit in Aurangabad and 11 per cent deficit in Buldhana.
In Vidarbha, Yavatmal with a 57 per cent shortfall in rain, till July 22, and Washim and Gondia with 47 per cent deficit, have recorded the least seasonal averages until now. Jalna, which had earlier received significant rainfall along with neighbouring Aurangabad, is now also witnessing a 24 per cent shortfall.
In Marathwada, at least nine talukas have recorded less than 50 per cent of normal average rainfall for this time of the year (till July 23) — Gevrai (42.8 per cent) and Wadavani (35.5 per cent ) in Beed; Basmat (47.5 per cent) in Hingoli; Ausa (46.7 per cent) and Chakur (31.1 per cent) in Latur; Hadgaon (42 per cent) and Kinwat (42.6 per cent) in Nanded; and Parbhani (45 per cent) and Jintur (45.2 per cent) in Parbhani district.
“There are some revenue circles within these regions that have not received even 100 mm of rain till date this season — Beed’s Chaklamba is one of them,” Machhindra Gawde, Beed district coordinator of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and a resident of Chaklamba village, said.
The Chaklamba circle comprises 16 adjoining villages, where rainfall recorded since the start of the season is 84.1 mm. Neighbouring Sirasdevi has received 88.1 mm and Talwada circle 72.4 mm — both in Beed’s Georai taluka.
Earlier this year, residents of Chaklamba had held multiple relay fasts demanding a sub-canal from Jayakwadi dam for their region.
“Now those who sowed a crop are beginning to see some wilting. Everybody is currently trying to pay premiums for the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana, but corrupt officials have been demanding Rs 200 to Rs 250 per head for the online submission of our details. We conducted an agitation against the local officials,” Gawde said. They also submitted an application to the district collector seeking action.
As water crisis mounts in regions, such as Georai, the number of water tankers has risen once again after it saw a drop over the past few weeks following the rains.
In Marathwada’s eight districts, 1,685 villages and 390 hamlets are being supplied water through tankers as of July 22. As many as 2,272 tankers are in use.
Till July 5, the number of tankers in use in Marathwada was 1,684, which were supplying water to 1,210 villages and 267 hamlets.
Economist and former member of the state’s planing commission, Prof H M Desarda has urged the state government to prepare a master plan to prevent droughts in the state. “It has to be a well-planned, properly budgeted, participatory and transparent programme,” Desarda said.
A petitioner in a now-disposed of PIL regarding water and water scarcity, Desarda on Monday filed an affidavit as a reply to a compliance affidavit filed by the state. “Last year’s drought and the continuing water scarcity in regions where this season’s monsoon is still lagging, are both proof of the failure of policy on agriculture and water management by this government,” he told The Indian Express.
In his petition, he had contended that the Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan works lacked a scientific approach.
Calling for a court-supervised monitoring of the Maharashtra government’s flagship scheme’s water conservation works, he said an environmental impact assessment was essential to prevent “wanton ecological destruction” through unscientific and unplanned trench-digging and damaging of aquifers.