At Savargaon, a nondescript village in drought-hit Parbhani, pre-monsoon showers have given farmers a reason to rejoice, with the Jalyukta Shivar project flowing with water. Images of muddy water turning dry stretches of canals, rivers, ponds into a small rivulets are pouring in from district collector offices to the headquarters in the Mantralaya.
At the outset, pre-monsoon showers are not farmer friendly. But eight districts of Marathwada anxiously awaiting rain have set aside their crop concerns taking delight in watching the dry canals gushing with rainwater, which was not more than 7.33 mm.
In the last four days, Maharashtra witnessed unprecedented erratic spells of pre-monsoon showers across remote villages in Vidarbha, Marathwada, North Maharashtra and parts of Western Maharashtra.
Officials from Beed, Latur, Nanded, Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, and Nagpur are unveiling images and tales of pre-monsoon showers bringing to life dead and dry canals, farm ponds, village wells and barrages. However, average rainfall audit shows it is between 7.33 mm and 20 mm across the state.
In the second week of May, overall water percentage in 11 mega dams in Marathwada was just three percent, which is alarming. However, IMD has predicted 130 per cent rains this monsoon in Marathwada.
A week ago, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis urged district collectors to expedite works of all ongoing Jalyukta Shivar abihyan projects. The chief minister, battling the worst drought in Maharashtra, said, “If we have good monsoons, we will be able to reap the benefits as we have created almost 1,69,424 projects in the last one year, spread across 6,202 villages.”
The chief minister, who has himself taken the lead in sharing images of ‘Jalyukta Shivar’ posted from rural villages by farmers, NGOs and district officials emphasised, “If pre-monsoon rain of 7.33 mm can bring back life to dry canals, good monsoons will bring better harvest next season as we have created adequate structures.” Sources in the ministry of water conservation revealed, “In the first phase, we completed 1,69,424 Jalyukta Shivar works across 6,202 villages. The total expenditure was Rs 2,053 crore.” There was enthusiastic public participation in the 4,930 projects which had an investment of Rs 274 crore. Fadnavis has repeatedly stressed, “The success of Jalyukta Shivar is people’s participation. It has turned into a water movement. The villagers are volunteering to participate in projects not only lending physical labour but also generously contributing for the project.”
At present, there are 34,960 ongoing Jalyukta Shivar works. In the second phase, 5000 villages reeling under drought have been accorded priority. Fadnavis has set a target of making 25,000 villages drought-free in the next three years.