DY­ING OF THIRST

Over 10,000 vil­lages and 15 of Ma­ha­rash­tra’s 35 dis­tricts face a drought- like sit­u­a­tion

India Today - - NATION - By Kiran Tare

Malti Palvi, a 27- year- old house­wife from Sakhare, a vil­lage in Thane dis­trict around 80 km from Mum­bai, stands in a queue to take water from a nearby well at 6 a. m. Her turn comes only af­ter 2 p. m. be­cause more than 100 women are ahead of her. Sakhare is not an iso­lated case. At least 15 out of 35 dis­tricts of Ma­ha­rash­tra face chronic short­age of water due to drought, which ac­cord­ing to Water Sup­ply Min­is­ter Lax­man Dhobale is more se­vere than the state’s worst in 1971.

While dis­tricts such as Thane, So­la­pur, San­gli, Parb­hani, Hin­goli, Washim and Ya­vat­mal re­ceived 80 to 90 per cent rain­fall in 2011, other dis­tricts like Nashik, Dhule, Nan­dur­bar, Au­rangabad, Jalna, Os­man­abad, Nanded, Am­ra­vati, Wardha and Nag­pur recorded 60 to 70 per cent of what they usu­ally re­ceive an­nu­ally.

Ac­cord­ing to data from Dhobale’s depart­ment, al­most 10,000 vil­lages in the state are fac­ing acute water short­age. Water sup­ply to dis­trict head­quar­ters like Jalna, Os­man­abad, Beed, Dhule, Au­rangabad, So­la­pur and Nanded has been re­stricted to once in two days. Vil­lagers in Akola and Buld­hana dis­tricts have no op­tion but to drink con­tam­i­nated water.

Peo­ple in 10 vil­lages in Washim dis­trict have given up us­ing toi­lets at home. It is equally bad in Thane dis­trict. “Hu­man exc­reta is cre­at­ing acute health prob­lems but we are help­less,” says Jiva Waghera, a vil­lager from Vikram­gadh.

Quar­rels over water have be­come com­mon. A woman died in a stam­pede at Mokhada vil­lage in Thane. The vil­lagers of Sha­ha­pur and nearby ar­eas ac­cuse politi­cians of “snatch­ing” their water. “There are four ma­jor dams in Sha­ha­pur but the water from these dams goes to Mum­bai, leav­ing us high and dry,” says Ma­hadev Bhanushali, a vil­lager.

The Congress- led state gov­ern­ment has adopted a wait- and- watch pol­icy. Chief Min­is­ter Prithvi­raj Cha­van is reluc­tant to de­clare drought although the rev­enue depart­ment has pre­dicted crop short­fall. He has asked the ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­crease the num­ber of water tankers to 1,500. “Water scarcity is wor­ri­some. We are closely mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion,” he says. His deputy and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ajit Pawar has or­dered aid of Rs 8,000 per hectare to farm­ers in western

WATER SUP­PLY MIN­IS­TER SAYS THE DROUGHT IS MORE SE­VERE THAN THE STATE’S WORST IN 1971.

Ma­ha­rash­tra, a strong­hold of his Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party.

The state gov­ern­ment’s re­quest for Rs 2,700 crore is still pend­ing with the Cen­tre. “The gov­ern­ment is not se­ri­ous about the drought sit­u­a­tion,” says Vinod Tawde, Leader of Op­po­si­tion in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, af­ter a four- day tour of droughtaf­fected ar­eas in Satara and San­gli. Congress Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Rahul Gandhi also vis­ited Satara dis­trict on April 28. But with the next elec­tions only in 2014, politi­cians are un­likely to take the drought se­ri­ously.

MAN­DAR DEOD­HAR/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

AVIL­LAGER FETCHES WATER FROM THE

DRYDAHREJARIVER, IN SAKHARE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.