Maharashtra is staring at an unprecedented water crisis, and the worst hit are Marathwada and North Maharashtra, which are left with 0.24% and 3.9% of their water stock.
As of Thursday, all the reservoirs in the state collectively held 6.15% of the water stock they are capable of holding. Last year, around the same time, the steepest plunge the stock took was 16.71%.
Most reservoirs that supply drinking water across the state have only dead stock left. Dead stock, as opposed to live storage in a dam, is the residual water that can’t be released through sluices and has to be drawn out.
Data from the state’s irrigation department shows that Marathwada and North Maharashtra are left with 0.24% and 3.9% stock respectively. Last year, the two regions had 15.7% and 18.43% water in storage.
“Konkan region dams have got the highest water stock, which is 22.47% this year, followed by reservoirs in Amravati at 6.24%, Pune at 5.56% and Nagpur at 5.06%,” a government report states.
It says that state’s mid-size reservoirs had 9.22% water stock as of Thursday, against 19.93% last year. While in small dams, there is 4.47% left against 10.43% last year.
A senior official from the irrigation department told DNA that all major reservoirs that provide potable water across the state had 80,000 million cubic litre (TMC) of water on Thursday, which is 5.97% of the total capacity of the lakes. Last year, this stock was 17.49%.
“The state’s daily demand is 0.5 TMC, so we have enough water in our reservoirs,” said the official, who did not wish to be named. “Marathwada is the worst affected. It will tide through 10-15 days at best. Dams in Western Maharashtra have 20 TMC, and most of them are in Satara and Kolhapur. We are banking on rains, or there will be a major water crisis,” he said.
Levels in major water-supplying dams, like in Vaitarna (-5.47%) and Jayakwadi (-8.81%), have dipped well below their dead stock.
The state has decided to carry out cloud seeding to meet basic water needs. It has issued a tender to invite bids for the process that will cause artificial rains in Aurangabad. Vidarbha and Marathwada, with their catchment areas, will be targeted next.
Minister Chandrakant Patil had earlier said that if needed, water would be supplied to the people via trains.