MUMBAI: A threat of drought looms large over 17 districts in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra due to deficient rainfall and excess use of water for sugarcane cultivation, officials said.
Most parts of Marathwada received average rainfall this monsoon and the water stock in the region stands at just 28. 81 per cent, according to figures of the water resources department.
The Jayakwadi dam, considered lifeline of Marathwada, has around 45. 88 per cent water stock as of Tuesday, compared to 87. 63 per cent the same day last year.
"At least 17 districts are under a threat of drought- like situation," an official from the water resources department said. But, it is too early to predict if the regions will face severe scarcity, he said.
The meeting of the sub-committee on relief and rehabilitation, headed by revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, is yet to be held and a final decision to declare the areas as drought-prone is likely to be taken after October 15, another official said.
"Sugarcane cultivation requires a large amount of water. There was sufficient water stock in the Manjara dam in Beed district last year, but it has almost dried today due to excess use of its water to cultivate sugarcane," Minister of State for Water Resources Vijay Shivtare said.
An official from the revenue department said it is a general practice to conduct a 'panchnama' or an initial survey of the loss of crops after October 15.
"Until the panchnama is conducted, the state cannot declare an area as drought-prone. But, the situation is grim and at least 17 districts are under the threat of drought-like situation," he said.
As per official figures, the Manjara dam in Beed has 1. 80 per cent water stock as compared to 88. 04 per cent last year, while the Majalgaon dam in the same district has completely dried up.
It had 60. 48 per cent stock last year. Out of nine major dams in the Marathwada region, two have dried up and there is an average 28. 81 per cent water stock in the other dams.
In the Amravati division of western Vidarbha, there is an average water stock of 57. 37 per cent in dams, while in the Nagpur division in east Vidarbha, it is 50. 02 per cent.