Maharashtra facing drinking water crisis
Water availability in dams recedes to 13%
After a devastating fire ravaged its headquarters last week, the Maharashtra Government is now up against a new emergency — drinking water shortage — due to delayed monsoon.
The water availability in the dams has receded to 13 per cent.
The Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan, has ordered a number of emergency measures, which include supplying dam water only for drinking water purposes. There would be no water supply for agriculture until rains replenish the catchment areas.
The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that the State has received only 125.2 mm of rainfall since June 1, which is 53.50 per cent below normal, against 182.80 mm in the corresponding period last year.
According to a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s office, 16 districts in the State have received less than 50 per cent of the rainfall. Another 15 districts have received rainfall between 50 and 100 per cent. Only Akola and Amravati districts have received exceeding 100 per cent of the normal.
15 Maharashtra districts face water scarcity: Minister
NAGPUR: As many as 923 villages and 4,345 hamlets in 88 tehsils and 15 districts of the state were hit by severe water scarcity, said minister for water supply and sanitation Laxman Dhoble on Monday.
Dhoble, who was in the city to preside over a meeting to review water scenario across the state, admitted that this year the scarcity situation was far more acute than in 1972 when the state had seen acute drought. He said that the water scarcity all over the state was increasing and so was the demand for water tankers. “The government has roped in tankers to supply water is areas where there is drought-like situation,” he said. At present, 1022 water tankers including 157 government and 835 private have been deployed to provide drinking water in 15 scarcity hit districts of the state, he informed.
Out of 1,007 regional water supply schemes, 750 were in operation while efforts were on to start remaining schemes. Dhoble, however, admitted that most rivers in the state were almost dry. He stated that the state was now facing the ill-effects of environmental degradation caused due to deforestation, rampant misuse and pollution of water resources. He also pointed out that the water scarcity in Western Maharashtra had increased manifold due to overuse of ground water.
The situation in Vidarbha was far better, the minister added. However, 130 tankers were supplying water in eight districts of Vidarbha including Amravati (six tankers, 10 villages), Akola (11 tankers, nine villages), Washim (29 tankers, 31 villages), Buldhana (40 villages), and Yavatmal (35 villages). Dhoble added that the number of districts facing acute water scarcity was set to rise as the summer progresses. The 15 affected districts include Nashik, Ahmednagar, Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur, Latur and Osmanabad.
He also stressed the need for municipal corporations and councils across the state to construct dams for storage of drinking water. At present, most cities were being provided water from irrigation projects. Dhoble claimed large irrigation projects were having only 17% water, medium 13% and small 11%. “Instructions have been issued to all the departments to ensure judicious use of water as the storage will last only till July end,” he said.
He said the government had made it mandatory for every guardian minister to utilize funds from district planning and development committee to purchase tankers for tehsil places. Besides, special funds will be provided to the district collectors (Rs 15 lakh) and divisional commissioners (Rs 30 lakh) for repairing taps. Similarly, for repair of regional water schemes, the government has authorised the divisional commissioners to spend up to Rs 1 crore.
Agriculture pumps disconnected due to non-payment of dues will be reconnected, he said adding the government would bear the burden.
Rainfall data between June 1 to 26 show that the Konkan region has a registered a 12 per cent dip in rainfall. This rain-surplus region, which is home to Alphonso mangoes, has received 456 mm of rainfall so far, while the average is 517 mm.
Marathwada is the worst hit region with 77 per cent decline in rainfall. The region has received 113.8 mm rainfall, while the average is 487 mm. Central Maharashtra saw a 51 per cent dip with 54.8 mm rainfall, while the average is 110 mm. The drought-prone Vidarbha is faring better with only 8 per cent decline in rainfall at 111 mm, while the average is 120 mm.
Until June 22, water was supplied to 2,145 villages and 6,480 hamlets in the State through a fleet of 2,540 water tankers. Last year, the State Government had to hire only 376 tankers.
Since mid-May, the State Government has opened 231 fodder depots for feeding farm animals. This operation will continue till July 15. In addition to this, 29 animals camps have been set up, in which 23,332 animals have been housed.