Marathwada may have to brace for another year of water scarcity

For most parts of Maharashtra, the monsoon season has so far been good news, with the average water stock in reservoirs crossing 50% of the total capacity. But, in the drought-prone Marathwada region in Central Maharashtra, the water stock currently stands at just 20%, and, if the rains do not pick up over the next two months, the region may be staring at another year of scarcity in 2019, officials said.

Mid-monsoon, villages across Marathwada are still relying on 339 tankers of a total of 500 deployed in the state, to get drinking water. The frequent droughts have also made the region a centre for farmer suicides and agrarian crisis due to falling prices of produce. Last year, the region’s water stock was 25.16%. The Jayakwadi dam, the lifeline of Marathwada, has just 32% stock, data from the water resources department shows.

On the same day last year,the dam had more than 51% water stock.

Officials from the water resources department, however, said the actual status for 2019 will become clear only by the end of August. The monsoon season in Maharashtra will last another two months, and the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), has also forecast downpours from August 8 across Maharashtra, a senior official of the water resources department said.

In the state, the total water stock stands at 51.21% of the total capacity of reservoirs. This situation is better than last year in the same month.

All regions, except Marathwada (20.13%) and Amravati (35.39%) , have more water than they did last year. The Konkan region, which includes Mumbai, has more than 85% of the water it needs till the next monsoon, Pune has 68%, Nashik, 45%, and the Nagpur region has 38.16% water stock in reservoirs. By the first week of August in 2017, the state had 50.65% water stock.

In July, Marathwada received only 54% of the normal rainfall. Districts such as Latur, Beed and Aurangabad got only 41%, 42% and 43% rains respectively. At present, Aurangabad, Jalna and Nanded are reeling under a water crisis, and the the highest number of tankers — 260 of them — has been deployed in the Aurangabad district alone.

Jalna and Nanded, too, have been getting water supply through 59 and 20 tankers respectively, said a senior official from Aurangabad Divisional Commissionerate.

“The situation may further worsen if there is no good rainfall in the district,” admitted an official from Aurangabad district collectorate, who did not want to be named.

IS Chahal, the principal secretary, state water resources department, said, “It will be too early to say the region will face severe water scarcity or a drought-like situation, as the monsoon traditionally extends up to October 15. So, we have at least two months’ time,” he said adding, “If the IMD’s forecast of a downpour from August 8 comes true, then that one push will take the existing stock to 60-70% .”

He further said the low rainfall in the region will not affect the Jayakwadi dam, as it is not dependent on rains in Marathwada but on rain in the Nashik region, owing to its location.

The water stock situation of Amravati region in Vidarbha is better than Marathwada, as the it received more than 87% rains in July, above the normal limit. Buldhana is the only district of the region which is using tankers (49) for water supply, said an officer from water resources department.

First Published: Aug 06, 2018 01:12 IST

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