Drought Causes Distress In Maharashtra

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Maharashtra, which is known for its farm crisis, reports that 90 lakh farmers have been affected by the drought in the region, which has wrecked the kharif crop. The number of farmer suicides in the state began in mid 1990s and is, still a major area of concern. Drought, brought on by an irregular monsoon is set to exacerbate the tussle for the farmers of the state. Nearly two-thirds of the state’s 1.37 crore farmers have been perturbed by the drought, mainly belonging to the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.

A few weeks ago, the state’s government stated that 60% of its villages were facing a “Drought-like-condition”. This means that crop yield of the area was less than 50% of the standard yield. 23,811 of the state’s 39,453 villages fall in this category.

The state government has released a relief of rupees 2,000 crore so far. The state had asked for aid worth Rs 4,800 crore from the central government, which is yet to come.

The state is likely to see a fall in the crop and pasture production this year. According to Vijay Jawandia, Vidarbha-based farmer activist, the yield of cotton and soyabean crop in the state could see a dramatic fall. The chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis is likely to accord higher allocations for the water resources and agriculture in the 2015-16 state budget.

Crisis means suicide for any party in power. The central government must induct drought-affected people in rural and urban projects to provide economic aid to them. “From reactive to proactive” should be the mantra of the government and society at large during any natural disaster.

Since droughts are uninvited, every state must develop a hard-core drought-planning to overcome such situations. A well framed plan, its researched formulation, correct implementation and rigorous evaluation, would help in avoiding drought-like-conditions. Government must develop such planning and action programmes for combating any natural calamity, with particular emphasis on policies, required infrastructures, coordination, community-participation, political commitment, raising awareness and provision of finance.

The impacts of drought can be reduced through preparedness and mitigation schemes. The primary concern of drought is water-shortage. From the perspective of water resources, a proactive approach, such as strategic planning of water resources management for drought preparation and mitigation should be taken over. Action-oriented plans should be initiated to meet future demands under drought conditions. These plans include improved water-management, proper irrigation facility and provision of tube wells in every village.

Thus, drought mitigation programmes must be integrative, proactive and dedicated. Monitoring and early warning system, risk assessment and institutional arrangements must form an integral part of such programmes.

Riya Kakkar

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