Maharashtra braces for water emergency

No rains in October, coupled with high temperatures, have aggravated the crisis

By Aparna Pallavi
Published: Tuesday 18 November 2014

A field in Maharashtra (Photo: Neha Sakhuja)

Maharashtra is on the verge of a drought that could be as severe as the one that hit state in 2012-13.

This year, as many as 138 talukas in Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Amravati  and Nagpur divisions in the state have received less than 50 per cent of normal rainfall,  with Aurangabad division being worst affected. Nearly half of the crisis-ridden talukas belong to this division. 

According to a few routine surveys carried out by the Ground Water Survey and Development Authority (GSDA) for nearly 3,920 observation wells in the state, 5,976 villages are likely to face severe water crisis. The survey found in more than 6,000 villages in 194 out of the total of 353 talukas in the state, the water levels have fallen by one to three metres. 

The scarcity of drinking water has shot the number of tankers being employed to supply drinking water by one third as compared to last year. According to figures released by the State Sanitation and Water Supply Department, as many as 65 tankers have already been pressed into service to supply water to 44 villages and 111 hamlets in the state. Last year, on November 11, the numbers stood at 43 tankers, 25 villages and 143 hamlets. (See table below)

Villages in crisis
Fall in water level Number of villages Year in which crisis is expected to begin
1-2 metres 3,628 April 2015
2-3 metres 1,483 January 2015
3 metres or more 865 October 2014


Drought hit talukas
Division No of crisis talukas
Nashik 2
Pune 8
Aurangabad 68
Amravati 29
Nagpur 14

“Till September this year, the authorities thought that the crisis would not be very severe as water levels of wells and tanks had risen,” says an official of the department. He explains that on September22, the number of crisis-ridden localities was as low as 22 villages and 54 hamlets, and only 36 tankers were employed. “However, absence of rains in October, coupled with high temperatures, has caused the crisis to exacerbate. The drought is expected to worsen as the year progresses,” he adds.

Report on Scarcity Conditions in Maharashtra State due to less rainfall during June 2014

Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on management of irrigation projects (Maharashtra)

How is 2012-13 Maharashtra drought worse than the one in 1972?

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