The Maharashtra government is likely to declare a drought in 8,000 of the state’s 43,000 villages, or nearly one-fifth of the state. A declaration is expected after another eight days as the state receives initial estimates of crop loss.
The Marathwada region has been worst affected, mainly the districts of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad. Portions of Jalna, Nanded and Parbhani in Marathwada have also been hit. Jalgaon in north Maharashtra as well as Satara, Sangli and Ahmadnagar in western Maharashtra and Buldhana in Vidarbha have also been impacted, state revenue minister Eknath Khadse said.
This will be the second successive year of distress for Marathwada which also faced a drought in 2014. “We are waiting to see the effect of the retreating monsoon. In some cases it could help the fodder and drinking water crisis. But in Marathwada, the kharif crop has already been lost,” he said.
The government is continuing with its artificial rain experiment and is now focusing on inducing rain in the catchment areas of western Maharashtra. Khadse said the state had started drought relief without waiting for an official declaration of drought. “After the central drought assessment team visited the state, they released Rs 550 crore. The state has also given Rs 350 crore for drought relief,” he said.