The Maharashtra government is likely to seek an additional ₹300 crore from the Centre for drinking water supply in the drought-affected areas. Last week, the Centre disbursed ₹2,160 crore to the State as drought relief.

A senior State government official told BusinessLine that because of scanty rainfall last year, coupled with overexploited groundwater sources, regions such as Vidarbha, Marathwada and Northern Maharashtra are facing acute drinking water shortage. Certain pockets in other areas are also facing water stress.

The additional funds will be used for making water available in these areas. Across the State, over 5,100 tankers fitted with GPS trackers are supplying water to about 12,300 villages. The situation could worsen due to rising temperatures, the official said.

In the affected areas, certain reservoirs and wells have water, which has been taken over by the district administrations for filling water tankers but the people living near the water sources feel they have first right over the water. Such claims and rows could potentially lead to law and order situations in the near future, the official said.

Water levels in dams

Water levels in major, medium and minor dams in the State have reached 17.4 per cent of the installed capacity as on May 8. On the same day last year, it was 29.55 per cent. The worst sufferer is the industrially developed Aurangabad region, which has only 4.92 per cent water. Last year, the region had 25.54 per cent of water.

Chairman of the Maharashtra State Agriculture Price Commission Pasha Patel said that due to acute water scarcity in his native Latur district, he has lost over 50 acres of bamboo plantation. The days are not far when the Marathwada region becomes a desert similar to Rajasthan due to climate change, he said.