Shiv Sena has expressed reservations over the outcome of the proposed cloud-seeding project by the BJP-ruled Maharashtra government, which is aimed at generating artificial rains, and asked it to explore other alternatives as well to make water available for scarcity-hit regions.
"If the monsoon conditions do not improve in near future, it will be the fourth consecutive year of drought in the state. There is no reason to complain against the cloud-seeding project, but the question is how much rainfall will this project actually generate?," Sena questioned in an editorial in the party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
Expressing doubts over the success of the ambitious project, Sena asked the Devendra Fadnavis government, in which it is also a partner, to also explore additional alternatives to provide water to dry areas and not rely only on generating artificial rains.
"The clouds of rainfall seem to have disappeared. To save farmers and the state from this grave problem, the state government needs to seriously think of other ways of providing water along with artificial rains," the editorial said.
Underlining that monsoon has not yet covered entire state except Mumbai, Konkan region and parts of Vidarbha, Sena said, "This has caused losses to farmers who had sown their crops hoping for a good monsoon this year. In the first month of monsoon, Maharashtra has received only 35-40 per cent of the average annual rainfall."
The state government had last month given the in-principle nod to a proposal to set aside Rs 10 crore for the cloud-seeding project.
Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse had said cloud-seeding will be taken up in drought-prone regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada if there is less than average monsoon forecast for the months of July and August.
The state relief and rehabilitation department, headed by Khadse, had floated tenders for the project and is also looking at roping in international agencies for the purpose.
Cloud-seeding, a form of weather modification, is the attempt to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dropping of crystals into clouds to cause rain.