In the drought-hit Marathwada region of Maharashtra, water levels in dams have dropped to only 3 per cent of the total capacity, officials said on Monday. Eight of the region's 11 major dams are at dead storage level, meaning water from these dams cannot flow out but has to be lifted out by other means.
This is the fourth year of drought in Marathwada in the past five years. Each of its 8,522 villages have been affected for at two consecutive years. As many as 2,745 water tankers are being used in the region compared to 939 this time last year.
The water crisis is so severe in some parts of the region that water is being delivered through a special âwater trainâ filled at Miraj in western Maharashtra.
These photographs by Ameya Marathe, curated by Nikhil Inamdar, capture the haunting water crisis faced by people of the region, especially the agrarian communities, with many ending their lives as a last resort and several others migrating to bigger cities.
Off the state highway a few kilometers outside Latur town, a parched tree casts a scarce shadow.
A farmer inspects his damaged soybean crop after a prolonged drought in the village of Murud Akola in Marathwada.
Distressed farmer suicides have averaged 9 a day. The drought has literally sucked life out of Maharashtra's agrarian communities.
Grieving family members of Mahakant Mali, a farmer who took his life, hanging by the neck from a shrunken mango tree at the far edge of his field.
A relative of Mali shows his only photograph. With him in the picture, is his widowed wife in better times.
Thousands of leaky water tankers can be seen crisscrossing the Marathwada country. The tanker economy is booming. Price of water have tripled in the last few months from Rs 400 to Rs 1200 for 6,000 liters.
With dams, barrages and borewells running dry, trains now pull in water from other parts of the state. Seen here is the Saigaon dam, which is now little more than a cesspool of grime and filth.
Taps have run dry long ago in Marathwadaâs towns and villages. People crowd around municipal tanks to get water. Many have to wait as long as 8 hours in blistering heat to get their fill.
Daily wage laborers complain that they have to miss work in order to fill up their containers.
A little boy watches, as an altercation breaks out at the Vivekanand Chowk water tank in Latur. Fights between officials and citizens over water supplies have led to violence and even death.
"How dare you divert water meant for my colony?" - an argument ensues between an old man and the tank official.
Lugging water filled jars back home has become a daily chore. This family has hired a tricycle for the day. Schools in the region have closed early owing to the water crisis and children say they were having great fun playing âwater portersâ during their vacation.
The streets of Latur town are perpetually lined with steel jugs in anticipation of a tanker's arrival.
The industrial economy of the region has collapsed. This factory of Kirti Gold, a large agro-processing industrial group has been shuttered for the last 2 months.
A failed harvest & shuttered industries have triggered large scale migration to cities like Mumbai and Pune.