A major portion water in the Bhima river, the second largest river in Maharashtra, is diverted for water intensive sugarcane cultivation.

There are 273 dams in the Upper Bhima basin and 90%  of the water from them is being diverted for sugarcane, reported The Times of India. 19% of the cultivated area in this region — more than six lakh hectare — is under sugarcane cultivation.

Last year when section 144 was imposed in Marathwada due to water shortage, the mills continued receiving higher amounts of water in the sugarcane cultivation area.

Flood irrigation is the main method used by farmers in the region. It is leading to increasing salinity and decreasing productivity of the crop, as the chemicals in the fertilizers remain stagnant in the fields.

Bhima basin located on the Northern boundary of Krishna Basin (Source: Integrated State Water Plan for Upper Krishna Sub Basin prepared by Water Resources Department Maharashtra)

The state has now made drip irrigation mandatory in 3.05 lakh hectares in the state.

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