Scant Rainfall, not Politics, Worries Maharashtra Farmers
Maharashtra faces uncertainty both politically and agriculturally. While the ruling Shiv Sena’s rebel leader and MLA Eknath Shinde plans to head to Mumbai along with his faction to grab power, farmers of the state face an uncertain future with 41.4% deficient rainfall, leading to a virtual halt in the sowing of Kharif crops.
According to the state irrigation department, which measures the scale of rainfall, Maharashtra hasn’t received even 10% of the expected monsoon—only a part of Konkan has witnessed proper rains so far. Consequently, the level of damns was down to 21% as of June 27 compared to 30% on the same day last year.
The rationing of water supply to Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Kalyan Dombivali, Aurangabad, Bhiwandi, Nasik, Solapur, Nanded, Latur and Jalgaon has already started. If the situation continues for more than a week, the water supply to several cities in the Vidarbha region could be cut as well.
The monsoon deficiency has severely impacted the sowing of Kharif crops. As per the state agriculture department, 1,41,97,625 hectares was expected to be sowed this Kharif season. So far, only 4,30,000 hectares have been sowed against the expected 12,00,000 hectares. Cotton has had the highest sowing so far with only 6%. Marathwada and north Maharashtra are the main regions where sowing is much slower.
Sowing till June 27 (In hectares)
The above chart clearly shows the state of sowing in the state. In fact, the MHA government has appealed to farmers to avoid sowing if the minimum rainfall is not 90 mm. Tehsil and revenue officials are in touch with farmers and the agriculture department is also updating them about rainfall via cell phones.
Farmers are worried about their crop, Sena’s minister Dadaji Bhuse, who was stripped of his agriculture portfolio by chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray on June 27, is with the rebel faction at Guwahati’s Radisson Blu Hotel. Despite holding the portfolio till Monday, Bhuse didn’t bother to address the worried farmers.
Farmer organisations have slammed the state government for lacking a full-time leadership at the ministry in such a crucial time. “Instead of giving additional charge to another person [Shankarrao Gadakh], the CM should have kept the portfolio with himself so that all urgent decisions could have been taken immediately,” farmer leader and former MP Raju Shetti told Newsclick.
All India Kisan Sabha’s Maharashtra general secretary Ajit Nawale termed the situation “a comedy circus”. “These people call themselves leaders of farmers. But they are more worried about power than farmers. It shows how insensitive these power-clingy politicians have become,” he said.
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