How is 2012-13 Maharashtra Drought worse than the one in 1972?

Maharashtra is facing one of the worst droughts this year. Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar as well as Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan have said that this year’s drought is worse drought than the one in 1972, which was termed as a ‘famine’. Maharashtra has the highest number of large dams in the country and is now claimed to be suffering the worst drought in four decades or more.

(For more detailed analysis, with tables, please see:

http://sandrp.in/otherissues/Maharashtra_Drought_2012_13_worse_than_1972_March2013.pdf

http://sandrp.in/otherissues/PR_How_is_Mah_Drought_2012_13_worse_than_1972_March_30_2013.pdf)

 DSC02370

Sugarcane going to sugar factories against teh backdrop of a dry Ujani Canal in Solapur                              Photo: SANDRP

However, an analysis of the rainfall figures and the monthly rainfall pattern in 1972 and 2012 with respect to the normal rainfall pattern in seventeen drought affected districts shows a different picture. From a Meteorological and agricultural point of view, this year’s drought cannot be called worse than that in 1972. It is possible that hydrologically, this year’s drought may prove to be worse than 1972 for some districts. The blame for this lies entirely on wrong decisions about building unviable and undesirable large dams, wrong cropping patterns, diversion of water for non priority uses, neglect of local water systems and unaccountable water management by the Maharashtra government, MWRRA (Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, set up in 2005 under a World Bank funded programme) as well as the Union Government.

Let us look at the figures of the rainfall of 1972 and 2012. Table 1 shows monthly normal and actual rainfall for 1972 and 2012 for the months of June to October and their total for the seventeen districts[1] mentioned as drought affected. When the monthly rainfall of 1972 and 2012 shows more than 50% deficit[2] from normal, it is marked in red background for 1972 and in red numbers for 2012.

It is clear from the Table 1 that in June 2012, eight districts had monthly rainfall less than half the normal. In July 2012, no district showed a deficit rainfall more than 50%. In August 2012, the deficit was more than 50% in case of three districts: Aurangabad, Jalna and Osmanabad (these three districts also experienced over 50% deficit in June). This was the case for only Jalna in Sept 2012 and for Dhule and Jalgaon in Oct 2012. It seems from this comparison that Aurangabad, Jalna and Osmanabad were some of the worst drought affected districts this year, which is indeed the case.

In comparison, the number of districts that faced more than 50% deficit in monthly rainfall in 1972 were: 3 in June, 9 in July, 9 in August, 6 in September and all 17 in October 1972. This comparison between 1972 and 2012 for the number of districts facing over 50% deficit in monsoon months clearly tells us that the 1972 rainfall was much lower than the 2012 rainfall for every month with the sole exception of June.

Sugarcane

Sugarcane in various stages of growth in Solapur, in March 2013                                              Photo: SANDRP

Table 2 gives the total rainfall of these five months (June-Oct) in a normal year, in 1972 and in 2012 for these districts. This table also gives the 2012 rainfall as % of the normal rainfall and as % of 1972 rainfall in separate columns. It is clear from this comparison that only in case of two districts (Sangli and Dhule) is the 2012 rainfall substantially lower  than 1972. In two other districts (Jalna and Satara) the rainfall in 2012 is lower than that in 1972, but difference is less than 7% in both cases. In remaining thirteen districts, the monsoon rainfall in 2012 was more than that in 1972.

While comparing the 1972 and 2012-13 droughts, it must be kept in mind that rainfall in 1971, the year before the 1972 drought was also low. In comparison, rainfall in Maharashtra was above average in 2011 & most of the dams were full. Maharashtra Economic Survey for 2011-12 notes, “Total rainfall in the State during 2011 was 102.3 per cent of the normal rainfall.” The state agriculture commissioner had stated in 2011: “The good distribution of rain has resulted in good quality of crops. The above average rainfall has filled up nearly all dams, which will help replenish the soil in the run-up to the rabi season.”[3]

Table 1 Normal, 1972 and 2012 Rainfall (in mm) in Drought Affected Districts

District

Year

June

July

August

September

October

TOTAL

Ahmednagar

Normal

101.4

102.5

84.3

148.1

61

497.3

1972

80.36

80.29

60.2

97.87

1.2

319.92

2012

39.6

86.8

63.8

93.6

99.5

383.3

Pune

Normal

139.9

286.6

181.4

144.9

77.3

830.1

1972

132.41

338.48

68.74

120.42

1.08

661.13

2012

55.8

161.2

205.6

116.8

137.2

676.6

Solapur

Normal

102

101.1

104.3

181.4

70.9

559.7

1972

49.35

64.28

20.03

91.4

25.99

251.06

2012

56.1

93.6

53.2

103.8

105.3

412

Satara

Normal

149.3

339.9

204.5

140.5

87.9

922.1

1972

241.54

535.62

73.65

127.79

1.75

980.35

2012

114.2

270.1

278.2

123.9

131.4

917.8

Sangli

Normal

92.9

132.1

96.7

133.6

96.3

551.6

1972

151.5

337.19

54.05

107.24

15.17

665.16

2012

48

78.7

58.8

68

154.4

407.9

Aurangabad

Normal

131.4

168.1

166.7

157.3

51.8

675.3

1972

92.07

46.64

64.63

85.64

0.85

289.84

2012

49.1

118

67.6

84.7

49.4

368.8

Jalna

Normal

138.9

171.8

166.7

156.7

54

688.1

1972

105.46

54.83

73.32

102.16

0.61

336.39

2012

43.4

95.2

62.7

78.4

44.3

324

Beed

Normal

128

161

138.8

177.6

63.1

668.5

1972

78.35

36.69

48.09

105.09

2.84

271.06

2012

54.9

108.6

82.7

107.3

81.4

434.9

Latur

Normal

145.6

192.7

181.8

205.2

63.3

788.6

1972

64.32

46.54

84.57

123.98

6.48

325.88

2012

115.6

183.4

160.8

163.9

136.3

760

Osmanabad

Normal

163.3

141.6

221.9

148.6

66.3

741.7

1972

59.03

32.23

33.48

115.17

17.54

257.44

2012

45.8

142.1

46.2

106.8

49.7

390.6

Nanded

Normal

164.8

273.9

246.9

197.2

60.9

943.7

1972

128.16

74.17

115.95

60.02

3.99

382.28

2012

108.4

219.3

154.9

125.5

52.6

660.7

Akola

Normal

135.2

231.3

182.8

148

37.6

734.9

1972

119.26

130.75

244.64

72.22

0.58

567.45

2012

151.4

292.9

148.8

198.7

36.3

828.1

Nashik

Normal

154.4

378.1

282

198.5

60.9

1073.9

1972

101.476

252.837

207.496

78.948

2.37

643.127

2012

83.2

262

280.1

162.4

75.7

863.4

Dhule

Normal

116.6

168.7

131.8

113.3

36

566.4

1972

87.68

159.823

240.364

48.517

1.578

537.962

2012

32.5

171

112

79.6

10.6

405.7

Jalgaon

Normal

130

206.8

187.8

139.2

39.1

702.9

1972

88.734

80.941

149.924

59.197

0.836

379.632

2012

19.6

181

102.5

86.2

15.3

404.6

Parbhani

Normal

126.6

210.8

203.5

180.7

55

776.6

1972

98.107

61.838

97.434

84.497

0.783

342.659

2012

99.5

192.4

107.4

159.3

78.5

637.1

Buldhana

Source: 1972 Rainfall Data: http://indiawaterportal.org/met_data/

Normal and 2012 Rainfall Data: http://www.mahaagri.gov.in/rainfall/index.asp

In addition, Maharashtra has by far the largest number of Big Dam in India. In 1972, some of the big irrigation projects in the worst drought affected districts. In 40 years since 1972, Maharashtra has built a very large number of big dams, ostensibly to help these drought prone areas. For example, Aurangabad has Jayakwadi project (completed in 1976), Beed has Mazalagaon Project (Jayakwadi Stage II), Jalna has Upper Dudhna and Lower Dudhna projects. Osmanabad depends partly on Ujani Dam, partly on schemes in Krishna basin, Solapur completely depends on Ujani. Live storage of most of the dams in drought affected districts is either 0 or near zero today. All these projects and increased groundwater use facilities in 2012 should actually be able to reduce the impact of rainfall deficit in 2012, which is lower than the deficit of 1972. But the situation is actually the worse in 2012 compared to 1972, claims the Chief Minister and the Union Agriculture Minister. So what are the reasons for this? For one, area under sugarcane in Maharashtra was 167 000 ha in 1970-71, going up to 1022 000 ha in 2011-12 (Maharashtra Economic Survey 2012-13).

districtwiseSugarcane

Chart showing district-wise Normal, 1972 and 2012 rainfall for the 16 drought affected districts of Maharashtra

Table1

As can be seen from the profiles of some of the districts given in Table 3 and accompanying chart, Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Sangli, Satara, Osmanabad, Beed, Latur, Nashik, Jalna, Parbhani and Aurangabad, all drought prone and drought affected districts are major sugar producing centres of the State. They collectively produce 79.5% of sugar produced in Maharashtra. According to Maharashtra Economic Survey for 2012-13, “As on 31st December, 2012, out of the total sugar production in the country, the share of State was 35.3 per cent”. So more the drought prone districts of Maharashtra produce more than a quarter of India’s sugar!

Table 2 Total Rainfall in drought affected districts in 1972 as against 2012 (in mm)

  Districts

Normal

1972

2012

2012 as % of Normal

2012 as % of 1972

1 Ahmednagar

497.1

319.9

383.3

77.1

119.8

2 Pune

830.1

661.1

676.6

81.5

102.3

3 Solapur

559.7

251.1

412.0

73.6

164.1

4 Satara

922.1

980.4

917.8

99.5

93.6

5 Sangli

551.6

665.2

407.9

73.9

61.6

6 Aurangabad

675.3

289.8

368.8

54.6

127.2

7 Jalna

688.1

336.4

324.0

47.1

96.3

8 Beed

668.5

271.1

434.9

65.1

160.4

9 Latur

788.6

325.9

760.0

96.4

233.2

10 Osmanabad

741.7

257.4

390.6

52.7

151.7

11 Nanded

943.7

382.3

660.7

70.0

172.8

12 Akola

734.9

567.5

828.1

112.7

145.9

13 Nashik

1073.9

643.1

863.4

80.4

134.3

 14 Dhule

566.4

538.0

405.7

71.6

75.4

15 Jalgaon

702.9

379.6

404.6

57.6

106.6

16 Parbhani

776.6

342.6

637.1

82.0

186.0

17 Buldhana

713.0

453.2

612.2

85.9

135.1

As one travelled during March 2013 in some of the drought affected districts like Pune, Solapur, Ahmednagar and Nashik one saw unending fields of sugarcane,  and some of Banana and Grapes on both sides of the road. Many of these fields were planted after August 2012 when it was known that Maharashtra would be facing a drought this year. There was no attempt by anyone in the Maharashtra govt or administration to curb either planting of sugarcane and other water intensive crops or to curb any of the water intensive activities like running of sugar and wine factories in the drought affected districts. The builders continued to advertise sale of houses attached with swimming pools in drought affected areas. Maharashtra continues to divert millions of cubic meters of water everyday, out of the Krishna and Bheema basin, to the Konkan area with average rainfall of over 3000 mm. The manager of Solapur Hotel said that there is no water scarcity. Groundwater levels are down, but there seemed little sign of drought in most of these areas. The poor and the cattle are facing the water shortage. However, it seems those who had the money and power continued to get as much water as they needed, for whatever purpose they want it for. An NDTV programme on March 29, 2013 accused NCP leaders of stealing water in times of drought[4].

Dry Seena

Table 3: Profiles of some of the drought affected districts

Area in ‘000 ha Ahmednagar Aurangabad Beed Jalna Osmanabad Sangli Solapur Pune
Geographical area

1702

1007.7

1068.6

772.6

748.5

861

1487.8

1562

Sown area

1146.3

654

876

529

519.3

557.1

919.7

945

Net Irrigated area

330

163.3

137.7

116.5

106.66

174

251.5

287

Canal irrigated area

84

31.05

108.92

22.17

18.72

45

31.4

121.5

GW irrigated

246

130.31

Nil

91.28

102.74

38.5

193.5

92.3

Sugarcane area 2007-08

133.3

34.3

74

25.1

53.8

64.7

154.5

104.2

2010-11

126

23.3

58.8

19.3

43.2

76.3

163.1

111.5

Amazingly, the Maharashtra Economic Survey for 2012-13, published after March 19, 2013[5] does not mention that the state is suffering from drought, leave aside giving details of the drought prone areas. Interestingly, it says that during 2012 monsoon, Maharashtra suffered rainfall deficit of 9.7% and that 10 districts and 136 talukas had deficit over 25%. And Yet the survey reported that water availability situation was alarming in Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, Nanded, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Jalgaon Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Buldhana (13 districts). These districts, the survey said, suffered “very severe water scarcity”. It said 1779 villages were supplied water through tankers as on March 4, 2013, topping the list was Aurangabad division with 771 villages. 4709 wadis were also supplied water through tankers, topping the list here was Pune division with 3197 wadis.

MWRRA and the state machinery have entirely failed in managing water levels at Jayakwadi & Ujni dams and releases from the upstream dam releases. There has been no serious attempt at controlling area under sugarcane and sugarcane crushing in the drought areas or controlling unauthorised sugarcane cultivation around Ujani backwaters, or unauthorised lifts from upstream of many dams like Nandur Madhyameshwar and through canal systems Majalgaon Project or lifting of water from the river beds for sugarcane or curbing other non essential water intensive activities. In fact all efforts have been towards increasing the area under sugarcane and other water intensive activities in the drought prone areas. In affidavit in the High Court, Maharashtra government said on March 28, 2013 that MWRRA effectively does not exist!

40 years after Maharashtra’s worst drought of 1972, the state seem to be in worse situation this year, despite spending lakhs of crores on irrigation projects and despite putting in place numerous institutions and authorities to manage water. While 1972 drought could be called a natural calamity, 2012-13 drought is a disaster of water management accompanied by corruption, extremely water intensive cropping pattern unsuitable for the drought prone areas, pushed by the government and the politicians, top heavy institutions without local participation or transparency, absence of responsive disaster management system and absence of a long term view to manage drought.

Parineeta Dandekar (parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com) and Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (www.sandrp.in)


[1] Ahmednagar, Pune, Solapur, Sangli, Satara, Aurangabad, Beed, Jalna, Latur, Osmanabad,Nanded, Akola, Parbhani, Buldhana, Nashik, Dhule and Jalgaon

[2] It may be noted here that India Meteorological office calls rainfall deficient when deficit is 20-60% and scanty when deficit is more than 60%. We have used the figure for 50% just for comparison here.

16 Comments on “How is 2012-13 Maharashtra Drought worse than the one in 1972?

  1. All the sugar produced in Maharashtra – where does it go? What is the market for it, the end users?

    Like

  2. Excellent, eye opener on the basis of study and facts. But do our politicians and decision makers ready for this approach of looking towards the situation? I think it should be in marathi and should be published in largely circulated marathi daily for the common pyblic to know the truth.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Drought of 2013: The story of Maharashtra’s water woes – Roundup of the week’s news (March 25 – 31, 2013) | Traana Foundation

  4. Pingback: India Water Week 2013: Another evidence of MoWR working like a big dam lobby? | Intercultural Resources

  5. Pingback: trying to make some sense of it all… | river side farm

  6. This is simply a man made drought, not natural. These figures are really eye opening. We need to have some kind of moratorium on these cropping patterns.

    Like

  7. The best report clearly stating that the drought is man made….was searchmg fr proof fr dis only….
    hence thanks alott !! 🙂

    Like

  8. Pingback: Greenpeace (In) and environmental politics | Water stories

  9. Reblogged this on DROUGHT FREE MOVEMENT and commented:
    Maharashtra drought has been one of the top most concerns since the past few years. The situation has been growing worse with the unsustainable and temporary adoption of methods to store water and its usage. The reasons are multiple for the crisis but, the solution to be found is one which would be sustainable for years. The concern for now is not just to save water but last it for the coming years and future generations.
    Bharatiya Jain Sanghatna has been working on the similar lines to develop sustainable watershed management systems in the drought affected areas and other areas too to prevent drought. Support us in the Mahashramdaan, a movement initiated by us to eradicate drought has already been successful in Melghat, Latur to name few.
    Help us spread awareness and make this movement successful in all the villages in Maharashtra. #BJS

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: