Maharashtra declares ‘drought-like’ situation (Lead)

July 9th, 2008 - 9:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, July 9 (IANS) A drought-like situation has been declared in Maharashtra in view of the highly inadequate rainfall in some parts of the state, a government spokesperson said Wednesday. The state cabinet, which met here Wednesday, took the decision looking at the fact that 15 out of 35 districts in the state received below 50 percent rainfall since the onset of monsoon, with some parts recording less than 10 percent of the average rainfall, revenue department officer J.S. Wani told IANS.

The worst affected parts include some sub-districts of Nashik, Solapur and Marathwada followed by western Vidarbha, he added.

The low rainfall, accounted for by long dry spells after the first monsoon showers resulted either in delayed or wasted sowing operations, causing considerable loss to farmers, the cabinet noted while declaring the drought-like situation.

In order to tackle the situation, the government has taken a slew of measures, including immediate launching of works under the employment guarantee scheme, supply of water in problem areas through tankers and by bullock carts, and provision of temporary pipelines, Wani said.

Opening of fodder depots and cattle camps, suspension of recovery of land cess and power bills on agricultural pumps and prioritisation of drinking water supply from irrigation dams are the other measures announced, he added.

The measures will be adopted only in the affected regions, he pointed out.

Four out of the five western Vidarbha districts, which accounted for the maximum number of farmers’ suicides in the last three years, have received less than 50 percent rainfall - though the situation in the region is not as grim as that in parts of Solapur, Nashik and Marathwada which got below 10 percent rains so far, the officer said.

The rainfall figures in the region, which suffers from poor irrigation facilities including protective irrigation (small water conservation systems), are Amravati - 48 percent, Akola - 47 percent, Yavatmal - 42 percent and Buldhana - 47 percent. Washim is marginally above the mark at 56 percent.

Wardha is the only district in the Nagpur revenue division (eastern Vidarbha) with less than 50 percent rainfall with five other districts having received rainfall in the range of 69 (Bhandara) to 92 percent (Gadchiroli).

Five districts in the state - Mumbai, Mumbai suburban, Thane, Raigad and Satara - have, on the other hand, received 100 percent or above average rainfall.

While vagaries of monsoon are not new for the state as for the rest of the country, it is for the first time in recent years that the government has declared drought-like situation so early in the season before any political party or farmers’ organisation asked for the measure, observers noted.

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