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Empty Canals and Wells – VIDARBHA Prepares for the Summers, Yet Again

Every Year 200 farmers in the Maharashtra, Vidarbha region commit suicide

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The impact of changing weather and climate patterns due to pollution and other such factors is stirring a change, which is neither good for the eco-system nor for the inhabitants, mainly humans. Maharashtra’s Vidarbha – also called “the worst place to be a farmer” – suffers droughts frequently and almost every season. But the extent of water-scarcity levels have elevated in the past few years mainly due to the degradation of ground-water level, which also is due to human interference and exploitation.  Empty canals and wells – the wait for a long 2019 summer is on, the battle is about to begin.

Last year alone, the Vidarbha section saw massive problems emerge out due to the scarcity of water taking the land to drought like conditions – termed severe by the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.  Local reports and data claimed that more than 20,000 villages in the area faced serious drought-like conditions posing a threat to livestock and crops that flourish on a certain requirement for water.

Deficiency in Rainfall – Crop and Livestock Loss

The Indian Meteorological Department’s (IMD) southwest monsoon data collected last year claimed that against the average annual rainfall in the country (682.9mm), the Vidarbha and Marathwada region received only 534.66mm of rainfall, a decrease or deficiency of 22 per cent approximately. The state level was 9 per cent less with the state of Maharashtra receiving 925.8mm of rainfall as compared to the normal monsoon levels of 1007.3mm.

The Kharif Crop loss had been massive, with close to 14,679 villagers in Maharashtra suffering from droughts, mainly dependent on water-tankers being sent in by the state government for districts severely hit.

The local villagers claimed – “the dug up wells have already dried up and the bore wells are also fast running dry. There are empty canals and wells everywhere with livestock unable to survive, the crops are also taking a hit at our livelihood.” Conditions were equally bad at the center of Marathwada, where almost 70 per cent of the soy-bean crop and 60 per cent of cotton crop was already destroyed or not yielded due to water scarcity.

Latur – the worst hit district in Maharashtra

The drought in 2016 was catastrophic leading to a special train-service carrying water to the worse hit district, almost making close to 500 trips in the process. The historic aid with the train running from Pune district was named the ‘Jaldoot‘ service but later the Railways handed over a bill of Rs. 4 crore for sending in the ‘water trains’ as requested. This exemplary service from the railways was efficient in vetting out the severe problems that the district of Latur faced in 2016. But with the climate fast spinning to severe extents, 2016 can be repeated once again in 2019.

The ‘Jaldoot’ trains became the reason for BJP’s impressive wins in Maha’s Civic elections

Measures to Control Drought-like Situations in 2019

The Maharashtra Water resources department has devised the use of existing water sources to prepare for the upcoming summers and prevent water-scarcity. But as feared, the current reservoirs hold only 26.63 per cent of water as compared to 78.53 per cent in last year after replenishment in the monsoon season.

While the ‘Manjara dam’ is the only source of water for Latur, it holds dead storage water, which can now be rationed for drinking water only. The state reservoirs in Amravati and Nagpur divisions – that are the primary divisions in Vidarbha – also hold close to 22.38 per cent and 22.35 per cent of water, which isn’t sufficient to say the least.

The farming situation in Vidarbha and Marathwada is dismal. It calls for targeted efforts and solutions from all fronts, from agricultural policies to irrigation benefits to addressing issues of climate change.

Coping Up with the Approaching Heat

Global temperature rising effectively will melt more ice caps and produce more heat in the summers as the final few days of good-old breeze wither away in Vidarbha, the hottest regions in India, during the months of April-July.

Temperature in the city of Nagpur can soar up to 44 degree Celsius and the same can happen in the surrounding areas like Jalgaon, Buldhana, Akola, Amravati, and Wardha. Described as the driest region in the entire Maharashtra – the Vidarbha end – though adequately prepared are short of the expected average, almost every year. The Melghat Tiger Reserve area, which is enticing green during the winters and monsoon is now raging fire and everything’s dry till the last tree you can spot from your naked eyes.

The same place in Amravati during the harsh summers (above) and during monsoon (below).
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