At a time when the IMD has revised its rainfall forecast from 93 to 88 per cent, Maharashtra government is preparing to use the cloud seeding method and induce rainfall, to cope up with water shortage.
According to K H Govindraj, Secretary – Relief and Rehabilitation department, the state government has floated tenders for cloud seeding, that will be kept ready if the monsoon fails or is below the required levels.
“According to the IMD prediction, rainfall will be more or less normal. But, if the monsoon fails, we need to have a contingency plan ready to make water available. Thus, we are not only looking at domestic but also international agencies that can help us with cloud seeding,” Govindraj said.
He said that the El Nino, the warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs every two to seven years on an average may result in long dry spells, that may eventually increase the drought problems already plaguing several regions in the state.
When asked to elaborate on the costs involved in the project, Govindraj said, “The cost may run into a few crores but money is not the only factor that we are looking at. The state government anyway had to announce a financial package of Rs 4000 crore to help distressed farmers.”
“The costs involved in inducing artificial rains will be much less compared to this. In addition, making water available will also mean that we can prevent farmers’ suicides,” he said.
Recent statistics by the state agriculture department also showed that 2014 had an increasing number of dry spell days during monsoon and the total rainfall received in Maharashtra was 70.2 percent.
Also, out of the total 355 talukas of the state, 226 had received below average rainfall.