Is Marathwada Undergoing Desertification?
The experts have warned that the Marathwada region of Maharashtra is heading towards desertification due to the policy-induced failures. The Groundwater Surveys show that the water table had dropped alarmingly in 70 of the 76 talukas and more than 25 have reported a drop of more than two metres.
Why the disaster is Man-made?
Of the 76 talukas in eight districts that comprise Marathwada region around 50 of them received around 300 mm rainfall last year. This translates to three million litres of water per hectare.
With the average population density of 300 per sq. km. in the region, it is more than enough to meet the basic drinking water and household needs of the populace besides leaving enough water for one crop. But the region is facing drastic levels of the water crisis.
Faulty Cropping Pattern
The crop pattern in the Marathwada region had drastically changed over the past decades. Earlier the main crops cultivated were cereals and oilseeds which were not only conducive to Marathwada’s arid climate but were drought-resistant and led to moisture harvesting.
Over time the cropping pattern has been dominated by soybean and Bt Cotton. They now dominate more than 80% of Marathwada’s 50 lakh hectares of cultivable land.
Further, the lure of easy profits from sugarcane, have led the farmers and the citizens to the edge of the current hydrological disaster because Sugarcane which is only grown in 4% of the total cultivable land, guzzles 80% of the water resources.