The current scenario of the dams in Maharashtra is more silt than the water storage. Moreover, there are limitations on creating new dams due to non-availability of land as well as funds, and hence the State faces acute shortage of drinking water.
To address the water issues, it is important that the self-sufficient municipalities like Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nagpur create their own water sources and increase the water storage capacity of the present dams. Also, the cities near the sea like Mumbai and Thane should opt for desiltation of water. The society and government should take a lesson from last year’s drought situation.
In terms of population, Maharashtra stands second in the country. The present population is approximately 11.24 crore while every decade there is an increase of two to three crore people. The cities like Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad and Nashik have 4.46 crore population, 39.70 per cent of the total. The population in the drought-hit Marathwada is around 2.13 crore.
In 2014, Maharashtra received 70.2 per cent rain, which catered to 72.5 per cent of the total water storage capacity. In 2015, the State received only 59.4 per cent rain and 61.4 per cent water was stored.
Due to this, there was an acute shortage of water for irrigation, industries and drinking. The crisis adversely affected the farm productivity, which was reduced by 27 per cent last year.
There are around 403 major dams in the State, 3,506 small or medium projects, 3,909 irrigation projects while 25,001 million cubic metre is the total water storage capacity. Meanwhile, 7,931 projects are in progress. Every year, a fund of Rs 7,000 crore is made available with the Water Resources Department for the development projects. However, the government has to spend Rs 300 crore every year to supply water to 2,523 villages by tankers.
Now, it is time to find a solution to the water issues. The big cities should start developing new water resources. Women also should be involved in decision making by the administration and local bodies; creating awareness; holding regular meetings.
Water harvesting should be made mandatory and most importantly, proper management of water is necessary for the State to fight drought.
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