Water released for parched Marathwada amid tight security
Aurangabad (Maharashtra) : For the third time in six years, the drought-hit regions of Marathwada will receive water released from dams in Nashik and Ahmednagar districts in Maharashtra.
Armed policemen were posted at strategic locations as water from two dams in Nashik and one in Ahmednagar was released early on Thursday for the 150 km long journey to Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad.
"Over the next two days, we shall release a total of 2.64 TMC water to Jayakwadi dam. This will include around 2.04 TMC from Darna and Mukane dams and another 0.60 TMC from the Gangapur dam," Nashik Irrigation Department Executive Engineer R.S. Shinde told IANS from the dam site.
The move came a day after the Maharashtra government declared drought in 42 per cent of the state, portending ill-tidings ahead of the election season and the winter session of the Maharashtra Assembly starting in Mumbai on November 19.
The drought-hit regions include 26 of the total 36 districts, spanning 151 out of 358 talukas (sub-districts).
Severe drought has gripped 112 talukas just as the monsoon bowed out, as there was barely 77 per cent rain in the state.
The decision to release the dam waters was taken after the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal filed by Padmashri Vitthalrao Patil Sugar Mills against an order of the irrigation authorities to release 8.22 TMC water from Nilwande dam in Ahmednagar to Jayakwadi dam.
Jayakwadi dam is situated on the Godavari river in Aurangabad and the fresh inflow of water would quench the thirst of the people in Aurangabad city, parts of Beed, Parbhani and Osmanabad, said Shinde.
This is the third time after 2012, 2015 that the decision under the ambit of equal distribution of water rules of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) was taken.
Shinde hinted that with Thursday's release of excess water from the Nashik-Ahmednagar dams, some parts may face "regulated supply" especially during the summer months, though shortages are not anticipated as apprehended by the farmers.
Already 10 out of 14 sub-districts of Nashik were facing drought in 2018, but owing to good rain in the catchment areas the dams were filled to the brim, he added.
However, the grim drought conditions hitting 44 sub-districts in Marathwada and 33 in North Maharashtra, has raised the spectre of shortfall in agriculture, spiralling prices owing to shortages, problems of drinking water and fodder for man and cattle, migration to urban centres and others.