While most parts of Maharashtra has received average monsoon rainfall this season so far, water stock in the drought-prone Marathwada region in central Maharashtra stands at just 20 percent, according to a report by The Hindustan Times.
If the rains do not pick up over the next two months, the region may be staring at another year of water scarcity in 2019, the report said quoting officials from the water resources department.
The Jayakwadi dam, the lifeline of Marathwada, has just 32 percent stock compared to over 51 percent water stock the previous year, data from the water resources department shows.
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Currently, villages across Marathwada are still relying on 339 tankers of a total of 500 deployed in the state, to get drinking water. In July, Marathwada received only 54 percent of the normal rainfall.
The actual status for 2019 will become clear only by the end of August, officials from the water resources department told the paper, as the monsoon season in Maharashtra will last another two months.
"It will be too early to say the region will face severe water scarcity or a drought-like situation, as the monsoon traditionally extends upto October 15. So, we have at least two months’ time," IS Chahal, the principal secretary, state water resources department, told the paper. Marathwada has been reporting frequent droughts over the past years, which has made the region a centre for farmer suicides and agrarian crisis due to falling prices of produce.
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The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), has forecasted downpours from August 8 across Maharashtra. Earlier, it had upgraded its normal monsoon forecast to below normal rain in August and September. Chahal told the paper that if the IMD’s forecast of a downpour from August 8 comes true, it will take the existing stock in the Marathwada region to 60-70 percent.
All regions, except Marathwada (20.13 percent) and Amravati (35.39 percent), have more water stock than they did last year.
In Amravati region in Vidarbha, another drought-prone region, the water stock situation is better than Marathwada as it received more than 87 percent rains in July, above the normal limit. Only Buldhana district of the region is using tankers (49) for water supply, an officer from water resources department told the paper.
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At present, Aurangabad, Jalna and Nanded are reeling under a water crisis. Districts such as Latur, Beed and Aurangabad got only 41 percent, 42 percent and 43 percent rain respectively.
These districts have been getting water supply through tankers with the highest number of tankers — 260 of them — being deployed in the Aurangabad district alone. Jalna and Nanded receive 59 and 20 tankers of water respectively, a senior official from Aurangabad Divisional Commissionerate told the paper.
“The situation may further worsen if there is no good rainfall in the district,” an official from Aurangabad district collectorate told the paper on condition of anonymity.
The total water stock stands at 51.21 percent of the total capacity of reservoirs.
The Konkan region, which includes Mumbai, has more than 85 percent of the water it needs till the next monsoon, Pune has 68 percent, Nashik, 45 percent, and the Nagpur region has 38.16 percent water stock in reservoirs.