Water levels in major dams across Marathwada region declined to three per cent, pointing to an alarming situation. At the end of third week of April, average water storage in 11 mega projects (dams) across Marathwada reeling under severe drought is 134 million cubic metres.
The maximum water capacity in all these projects is 5142 million cubic metres (MCM).
A senior officer in the ministry of water resources said, “Weekly statistics shows a steady decline as the summer peaks with mercury levels rising to 40 to 45 degrees in drought districts.”
Taking into account the critical situation likely to continue till onset of monsoon in the second week of June, the government has taken additional measures of sanctioning borewells in water scarce districts to go beyond 200 to 300 feet.
The decision to lift the ban on borewells was to tap new water sources in the villages where sources of traditional water bodies including wells, ponds and canals have dried up.
The water level last year at this time in the region was 13 per cent (659 MCM). The statistics issued on Friday also reflects the worrying conditions.
The average water levels across Maharashtra was 18 per cent. Last year, it was 31 per cent of the total water capacity across all dams. Regionwise data shows Konkan (44 per cent), Marathwada (3 per cent), Nagpur division (28 per cent), Amravati division (19 per cent), Nashik (14 per cent), Pune (18 per cent), Mumbai (24 per cent).
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has urged all district collectors in Marathwada region to ensure no village is left without drinking water. A three-pronged strategy to supplement water shortage is being scaled up through deployment of additional water tankers and requisitioning village wells and restricting them for tapping drinking water only. Water supply to Latur district through train will continue daily till monsoons. Notwithstanding the expenditure of Rs 25 lakh per rake (ten wagons), the Centre-state has decided to continue supply of water uninterrupted. Apart from Latur, there is growing demand for more water supply in Jalna and Parbhani.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu assured Fadnavis to press additional trains into service if required. Daily two trains provide water to Latur city.
An officer in the water resources ministry said, “While it is a fact that water levels in the biggest dams like Jayakwadi and Ujjani have dipped, they still can sustain requirements of cities/towns.” The water at Jayakwadi is 56 TMC, which would take care of Aurangabad district and its periphery. However, water levels have put an end to all agricultural activities and curtailed supply to the industries, he noted.