India: Maharashtra heads towards a drier drought

Source(s)
Down To Earth

By Nidhi Jamwal

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According to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, more than 20,000 villages in the state are facing drought-like conditions. Marathwada region seems worst affected. The state government has already started field-based drought assessments and calculations of crop yield losses in affected talukas. An official drought announcement is expected by month-end and the state government may also approach the Centre for drought relief.

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Last kharif (summer crop) season, 14,679 villages in Maharashtra faced drought. “At present, the entire Marathwada region is in the grips of drought. Availability of drinking water has already become a challenge as dug wells have dried up and bore wells are also fast running dry,” said Mohan Bhise, former agricultural officer of Latur district in Marathwada region.

Already more than 500 villages in Marathwada are dependent on water tankers to meet their drinking water needs, said Manik Kadam, president of Marathwada division of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, a farmers’ organisation in Maharashtra. Marathwada region falls in semi-arid, drought-prone zone. Just two years ago, in 2015-16, the region faced an unprecedented drought.

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Meanwhile, situation is no better in other districts of Marathwada. For instance, in villages of Parbhani, farmers have reported up to 70 per cent decline in soybean crop yield and about 60 per cent reduction in Bt cotton crop yield, said Kadam. A formal assessment of crop yield losses in affected districts is underway.

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