Causes of water scarcity in Maharashtra

The most advanced province of Indian republic has been continuously reeling under the chronic water scarcity problem. Nowadays, it is known for fodder camps, water tankers, and conflicts over water apportionment among the parched divisions. Why this is so, let’s find out the causes of water scarcity in Maharashtra region. 

By most of the scholars, the ongoing water crisis in the state of Maharashtra is ascribed to weak monsoon, faulty cropping pattern, and poor water management.

Shockingly, so far, no one has raised fingers at large scale sugarcane plantation and indiscriminate over exploitation of scarce water resources. 

Most common causes of water scarcity in Maharashtra

So far, various scholars, NGOs, and environmentalists have raised questions over the sugarcane plantation in the Maharashtra state. But, still hundreds of sugar factories are in operation with full capacity in the drought trodden region. 

1. Cropping pattern and sugarcane plantation – main cause of water scarcity 

Cropping pattern of Maharashtra is the most potential factor that caused huge imbalance in water use in the state. Over emphasis on the water intensive crops such as sugarcane and bt cotton are often ascribed to the ongoing water crisis.

More than 250 sugar factories in Maharashtra manifests the grave reality of faulty management of precious water resources. Surprisingly, all these sugar industries are owned and operated by the political elits to advance theirs political interests.

Though there is only 4 percent of sugarcane plantation out of total cultivable land, it exploits almost 80 percent of water resources of state, leaving only 20 percent for all activities.

There is a law to prohibit water intensive crop in the parched region, but the involvement of political heavyweights makes it less effective. Even in the difficult situation, there, all the industries were in full operation .

2. Adverse geographical situation – a cause of water scarcity  

Well, monsoon is the lifeline of Indian agriculture or economy ever since the inception. It is the only source of fresh water resources.

At the same time, erratic nature of monsoon is well-known for us. Apart from these, in the last decade, the uneven distribution of rain and increasing variability have been a major headache for Indian people, as well as government.

Though annual rainfall is around 118 cm. in India and around 120 cm. in Maharashtra, its time & variability causes  negative impacts in the form of floods and droughts, over the Indian landscape.

Surplus rain is a rarity, but deficiency is common thing in the most advanced yet water scarce region of Maharashtra. Late arrival, weak nature, El-nino effect, formation of cyclones amidst the monsoonal arrival, are some of factors that one can blame for the poor rainfall.

3. “Orographic rain and rain shadow effect along the highlands of Maharashtra Causes imbalanced distribution of rainwater”

Monsoon rain is orographic in nature means it occurs when there are effective barriers. So, it, largely, occurs in the area of wind ward sides of highlands. Consequently, there is hardly any rain on the other side, that we call rain shadow zone.

In India, rain shodow zone constitutes around 25 percent of total geographical area. Out of these, majority part of Maharashtra belongs to this rain shadow zone, where average rainfall is mere 40 cm.

4. Basaltic rock and poor ground water table in the Deccan plateau 

Geologically, Maharashtra is placed over the “Deccan lava plateau”. It is a non-permeable rock. Hence, it lacks better aquifers to store ground water.

As a result, the ground water resources are too poor to make available required water. As we know that ground water plays greater role in the water availability as it is the most convenient source with modern technology.

5. Environmental illiteracy Potential cause for over exploitation of water resources 

What would happen when the people themselves aren’t aware about theirs own resources ? The environmental illiteracy is one of the important factors that is equally responsible for the vulnerability of wonder liquid. People, usually, wake up whenever they face crisis. They are too vulnerable to fall for lure.

Let’s take an example of sugarcane cultivation. Maharashtra has regur soil which is more suitable for cotton and coarse cereals. Earlier,these crops were predominant in the Deccan plateau. But, it was the west Maharashtra leadership which need to be blamed to make sugarcane as a political crop. Now, it is ubiquitous reality.

“Those who want to start political career, first of all start a sugar industry to woo voters and people equally responds positively”

So far, even in the marathwada region, which is known for not only water scarcity but water crisis, there are 50 sugar industries in the operation. Here whom to blame-cane farmers or political elites.

As far as my opinion is concern, ongoing water crisis is the product of joint association between cane growers and political elites. In reality, others are becoming scapegoats to bear burden.

6. Rapid urbanization and Real estate boom accelerated the pace of water exploitation in the state like Maharashtra 

Maharashtra ranks higher in terms of urbanization. So the demand for houses is so high for both purpose -residential and investment. But, the end result is rapid growth of urbanization.

This is an extra offshoot to aggravate ongoing problem. Urban people are more aware about theirs rights and also organized. At the same time, a lot of money has been invested by theirs political deities in the lucrative business of real estate.

Therefore, potential water resources have been diverted thoughtfully to appease and woo their’s customers. Thus, it created extra stress over already burdened resources. In this maneuvering, the real victims are rural, poor,and politically less organized people.

These are some potential causes of water scarcity in Maharashtra nowadays. 


Now the picture is clear. Ongoing water crisis is the product of “host of factors”. Wether it is weak monsoon or faulty cropping pattern, all are equal stakeholders in the present problem. Its immediate solution is distant reality due to vested interest of elite class.

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