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Drought shadow on Maharashtra villages

State declares nearly half of 353 tehsils in bad shape
Tribals and farmers protest in Mumbai on Tuesday to demand loan waivers and transfer of land titles.
Tribals and farmers protest in Mumbai on Tuesday to demand loan waivers and transfer of land titles.
Image credit: PTI

Our Special Correspondent   |   Mumbai   |   Published 23.10.18, 08:24 PM

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday declared that 180 of the 353 tehsils in the state were facing a “drought-like situation”.

“A situation of drought has developed in Maharashtra. The state has received only 77 per cent of its average annual rainfall. I have declared 180 tehsils to be facing a drought-like situation as per the norms of the Centre and immediate measures are being taken in view of the situation,” Fadnavis told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

The declaration came a day after a farmer and his wife are suspected to have committed suicide after killing their two-year-old daughter in a village in Ahmednagar district.

Police sources said Pandurang Shelke, the deceased farmer, had taken a loan but added that an investigation was on to find the reason behind the family’s death.

A visitor to Shelke’s house had found the bodies.

The cabinet had met in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon to discuss a report submitted by the water supply and sanitation department.

“Of the 40,000-odd villages in the state, around 11,500 have been hit by water scarcity because of less than normal rainfall and groundwater exploitation,” a government official said.

Sources said the groundwater level had depleted to alarming levels by at least three metres in around 325 villages, while the level of depletion was at least a metre in 2,130 villages.

According to the report, 11,487 villages in 167 tehsils were staring at a situation of scarcity. It said 75 tehsils in Vidarbha and 64 in Marathwada were among those affected, with rainfall deficit ranging from 30-50 per cent in 40 tehsils in Marathwada and 17 in Vidarbha.

“We will soon pass a government resolution to pave the way for various measures to meet the situation. A central government team would also visit the tehsils soon,” Fadnavis said.

“Irrigation pumps, waiver of land revenue, continuous power supply, drinking water tankers and other steps will be taken to overcome the situation,” the chief minister added.

Maharashtra had earlier declared drought for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015.

Dhananjay Munde, the leader of the Opposition in the state legislative council, said the state government has spent crores to improve irrigation facilities and had claimed that 16,000 villages were drought-free. “That has now been proved to be a lie.”



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