With 24 out of 36 districts in Maharashtra facing deficient monsoon and the situation worsening in the drought-hit Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, the State government has decided to go for cloud seeding.

Eighteen districts, mainly in Marathwada and Vidarbha, are facing monsoon deficit of 20-51 per cent. Between July 1 and 14, Marathwada received 144.9 mm rainfall compared to the normal of 210.5 mm ( 31 per cent deficit) while Vidarbha received 212.1 mm against the normal of 303.5 mm .

State Minister of Employment Guarantee and Horticulture Jaydatta Kshirsagar told media that the State government will implement the cloud-seeding procedure to tackle deficient rainfall in Aurangabad, Solapur and Ahmednagar after July 22. The State government has already allocated ₹30 crore for the project and the Cabinet has discussed about the project, he said.

Another Minister, Babanrao Lonikar, told media that the State has the permission of the Centre to go ahead with artificial rainfall. The State will keep ready the Sea band doppler radar and a plane at Aurangabad.

Water storage

Marathwada dams have just 0.8 per cent storage compared to 14.02 per cent this month last year. Dams in Vidarbha have 8.68 per cent water. Compared to 33.48 per cent water storage in all dams last year this month, Maharashtra’s dams hold just 21.42 per cent storage this year.

Kharif sowing

The deficient rains have also affected kharif sowing in the State. Against the 140.68 lakh hectares, the average area for the kharif crop, only 84.24 lakh hectares has been sown by July 10.

Twenty-six of 36 districts (72 per cent) are reeling from water scarcity and crop failure extends over 85.76 lakh hectares, affecting 82 lakh farmers.