Despite heavy rains and floods this year, many parts of Maharashtra received deficient rainfall. 70 per cent area of the state falls under semi-arid region. Maharashtra has declared drought three times in the last five years. Even after spending thousands of crores on irrigation and drinking water projects, the drought leaves people in the lurch every year. Maharashtra has many big rivers like Godavari, Penganga, Wainganga, Wardha, Krishna, Koyana, Bhima, Indravati, Tapi, Purna, etc. But all rivers are rain fed. So, we need to use these precious water resources carefully and wisely.
In the backdrop of water crisis and drought, Israel can be role model for Maharashtra in water management. Farmers of the state have been irrigating their fields by flooding them, while Israel has invented drip irrigation technology which saves up to 75 per cent water. Drip irrigation also increases crop production by 15 per cent. Inspite of only 100 mm annual rain fall, Israel has no scarcity of water. 60 per cent area of Israel is desert and rest of the area is arid. Israelis use groundwater and lake water to fulfill their needs. They treat 80 per cent of their domestic wastewater. Recycled water is used for agriculture and constitutes nearly 50 per cent of the total water used for agriculture.
On the other hand, Maharashtra gets over 1,000 mm rain annually. It means that the state gets 10 times more rain than Israel. But it lacks effective water management and continuously facing water shortage and drought. Production of sugarcane is one of major factor for water shortage in Maharashtra. According to the Water and Irrigation Commission formed under former Central Water Commission chairman Madhav Chitale, sugarcane cultivation consumes 71 per cent of Maharashtra’s irrigated water. Therefore, Maharashtra government took step for saving water and promoted drip irrigation for sugarcane cultivation. Sugarcane was grown over 9.42 lakh hectares in the state in 2017-18 and mere 2.25 lakh hectares areas was covered by drip irrigation. As per available data, Konkan region receives 1500 mm to 3,005 mm rain, Marathwada 882 mm and Vidarbha receives 1,034 mm rain per annum. Thus, Marathwada and Vidarbha are drought-prone.
This year, six out of nine major dams of Marathwada are not at their full capacity. Major dams of the region are at 56 per cent of their live capacity, compared to 21% at the same time last year. As per latest data, Manjara Dam in Beed district is almost empty. Siddeshwar Dam in Hingoli is also empty. Lower Terna Dam in Osmanabad is at 33 per cent of its capacity. Sina Kolegaon Dam in Osmanabad is also empty. Lower Dudhana Dam in Parbhani is at 8.63 per cent of its live capacity.
It is remarkable that water availability per capita in India is continuously decreasing. It has come down to 1,540 cubic metres from 5,000 cubic metres in 1947. India receives 4,000 million cubic metres rain water annually. All possible efforts should be made to save and conserve this water. For this, every person, organisation, industry and government have to work together. Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat raised this issue in 13th World Aqua Congress recently. He warned that if water level continues to fall and the population continues to increase, a majority of India could face water scarcity.
Rapid urbanisation, increasing population and poor water management have worsened the situation in Maharashtra. Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur are over populated. Other cities and towns of state are also lacking proper infrastructures and basic amenities. All big cities face water supply cuts much ahead of summer season. In future, more industries will be established in Maharashtra, which will need water. People of other states are continuously coming and getting settled in the state in search of livelihood. In such scenario, water management of Israel will be very helpful in mitigating water crisis. Maharashtra receives more rain in comparison to Israel. Therefore, by creating awareness among people regarding stopping misuse of water, rain water harvesting, making drip irrigation mandatory, saving and conserving every drop of water, treating wastewater in every city and village, and using recycled water for agriculture, we can make Maharashtra Israel of India.
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