Saturday, August 15, 2009

Drought-hit Vidarbha prays for rain-NDTV reports

Drought-hit Vidarbha prays for rain
Sanjay Tiwari, Monday August 10, 2009, Yavatmal District, Maharashtra

There are many regions in the country, parts of states, which are in the midst of a terrible drought - like Vidarbha in north western Maharashtra.

The region is already stricken with extreme poverty and farmer suicides, and with no rainfall this year, the farmers are desperate and will need government help.

"We are asking for water. It's difficult to survive, painful to visit farms and watch crops dry," said a farmer.

Praying is all the farmers can do. There's no water for the cattle. The lakes and reservoirs are dry, and the crops are dying.

"This crop should have grown chest high with grains. In another 15 days, it should have been ready for harvest," said a farm activist.

A drought-like situation is declared in all 16 tehsils of Yavatmal. The district has not even received half the rains it did last year. The ground water has also receded a few more metres.

"Real relief is not coming. Here the farmers need fodder, they need food security, they need at least an alternate crop if the rain comes," said Kishor Tiwari, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.

More than the 'much below average' rainfall, it is the failure of the administration to provide immediate relief that has hit the farmers hard.

NDTV met desperate farmers, who have encroached the moist bed of drying lake, and planted cotton, that might not survive.

Yavatmal is part of Vidarbha, a region that sees maximum number of farmer suicides in the country.

Farmers are battling an endless cycle of debts, crop failures and poverty, desperately hoping that the 'Rain God' will answer their prayers.

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