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Sunday, January 6, 2013

‘Worst drought in 50 yrs’ looms, CM talks tough

Pune: As the state gears up to face one of its worst droughts in recent history, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday announced "unprecedented and stringent" steps to curb wastage of drinking water and its usage for purposes other than drinking. 

    "Major parts of the state, including the Pune region, Marathwada and parts of Vidarbha, have been facing a major water crisis, and the situation is likely to worsen. This is the first time there is not enough water even for even drinking. We have to take unprecedented and stringent decisions which no government has taken earlier. And even then, I am not sure it will be enough. The situation is serious and we have to look for answers," the chief minister said, speaking near Pune. 
    Echoing Chavan, Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said, "I have not seen such a serious water crisis in the last 50 years. We have seen droughts in the past too, but this is the first time that even drinking water is not available." The NCP boss stated that although by next week, the Centre would approve Rs 770 crore for the state, the situation was bad and people should curb excess use of water. 
State seeks 2,200cr to refill reservoirs 
Pune: Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, speaking at a combined annual general body meeting of the Maharashtra State Co-operative Sugar Factories Federation Limited and the Vasantdada Sugar Institute at Manjari near Pune, warned of a major water crisis ahead for the state. Chavan said the state was ready with a mechanism to supply water to drought-affected areas, but the system itself would not be of help as there was no water to provide. 
    "The water level in the Ujani dam is zero. Imagine what the situation will be if we are not able to provide drinking water to drought-affected areas. The state has sought Rs 2,200 crore from the central government to refill water reservoirs," he said, adding that if the additional funds fail to come from the Centre, the state would have to divert funds meant for other works. 
    Meanwhile, CM Prithviraj Chavan said the state was planning to ban flood irrigation system and encourage drip irrigation. "Excess water is used for crops, especially sugarcane, through the flood irrigation system. We can save water by using drip irrigation. We need to ban flood irrigation and encourage drip irrigation," he said, adding that the state plans to focus on grants only for drip irrigation. "


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