Drought has intensified in Maharashtra with just 18.51 per cent live storage left in dams, 8.5 lakh livestock in fodder camps and 12,000 villages and hamlets depending on water tankers.

An estimated 82 lakh farmers are affected by the drought. The situation is likely to worsen in the Marathwada and Vidarbha (Nagpur) regions, where storage levels have depleted to 5 and 10 per cent, respectively.

The State Water Resources Department data on May 3 showed that 3,267 major, medium and minor dams in the State have just 18.51 per cent live storage compared to 29.95 per cent on the same date last year. 18 major projects in the State don’t have live storage.

More tankers ply

Nashik division is also facing a water crisis with 17.62 per cent water storage left in dams compared to 30.81 per cent last year. The sugar-rich Pune region has 21.43 per cent water stock compared to 33.87 per cent water on the same day last year.

Nearly 4,774 water tankers are plying in the State whereas during the same time last year 937 tankers were deployed to quench the thirst of villagers. 1,264 fodder camps across the State have sheltered 8.5 lakh cattle and demands for more fodder camps are pouring in from the Marathwada region.

Karnataka, too, suffers

Maharashtra and Karnataka are facing a severe drought situation this year, according to Ministry of Agriculture data. Twenty-four out of 30 districts (80 per cent) in Karnataka and 26 out of 36 districts (72 per cent) in Maharashtra are reeling under water scarcity and crop failure.

However, the severity of drought is more in Maharashtra, with 85.76 lakh hectares affected, which is 44 per cent of the total affected area in the country. The Maharashtra government had asked for ₹7,522-crore aid, saying that more divisions could be added to the list of drought-affected districts, but the Centre has approved only ₹4,714-crore in drought aid to the State.

According to the State government, 68 lakh farmers have been given drought relief funds and steps are being taken to ensure that affected farmers get their crop insurance claim without any delay.

While kharif crops withered due to drought, many farmers did not sow any rabi/winter crops at all.

All major crops, including maize, soya, cotton, mosambi, pulses and groundnuts have suffered due to poor rainfall.