The drought in Maharashtra is not a new phenomenon. The region has faced water crisis since more than three decades now. Each year, the situation has only gotten worse. News reports are calling this year’s drought, the worst in over 100 years. Here are quick facts about the conditions in Maharashtra that you should know about:
- Around 27,723 of the 43,000 villages in the state have been declared drought-hit.
- It has been four years since there has been adequate rainfall in Marathwada causing death and distress
- People who rear cattle for livelihood have been facing problems as well with the only fodder available being withered sugarcane. The states ban on cattle slaughter has only worsened the situation.
- Marathwada once had 30% forest land. It has now dwindled to 1%.
- It is forecasted that the region is slowly heading towards desertification with the increasing number of bore wells depleting ground water and the decreasing amount of rainfall annually.
- Rainfall has consistently decreased since 2013 by 10% each year. It was 40% below average in 2015.
- Eight of the 11 major dams in the region have dried up.
- Only 3% of water stock is available in all the 814 major, medium and minor irrigation projects in the Marathwada region.
- As many as 2,745 water tankers are being used in the region compared to the 939 used this time last year.
- In 2015, around 3,228 farmers in Maharashtra committed suicide due to crop failures and worsening drought conditions.
- Out of them, the state has found only 1,841 eligible for government aid.
- With 3,712 major, minor and medium projects, Maharashtra has the highest number of dams in the country; yet its irrigation coverage is only 17.9 per cent.
- Over 70% of the water in the state goes towards sugarcane cultivation.
- According to a study by the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), drought-prone districts, for instance Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Sangli, Satara, Osmanabad, Beed, Latur, Nashik, Jalna, Parbhani and Aurangabad, account for 79.5 per cent of sugar produced in the State.
- SANDARP states large dams, wrong cropping patterns, water diversion for non-priority uses, neglect of local water systems and unaccountable water management as some of the causes for the drought, hinting that it is a man-made disaster and not a natural one.
Step taken by the Government:
- The central government recently approved a National Hydrology project with an outlay of more than Rs 3,600 crore, which aims at collecting water resource data for the whole country and balance the capacity of water between the state and centre.
- A 50-wagon water train carrying 25 lakh litres of water was sent to Latur district on Wednesday.
- The state government’s own flagship scheme Jal Yukt Shivar is attempting to improve groundwater storage, particularly in drought-hit areas, by stopping water from flowing away.
- The Maharashtra government has granted 10,000 crores to boost water conservation and make the state drought-free 2019.
- The Central Government has approved relief assistance of Rs 3049 crore, which is the highest-ever central assistance given to Maharashtra.
A lot of NGOs and non-profits have been tirelessly working to improve the situation and provide relief to the farmers. Today, on Earth Day, it is time we all take responsibility to save the planet’s natural resources and help those who are suffering. You can help the farmers by starting a crowdfunding campaign on our website and donating the proceeds to a charity of your choice that works to help the farmers of the region. Login to our website to start a campaign and make a difference now!