‘54 cr. farmers in the grip of drought’

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Over 54 crore farmers and rural populations across 13 States are in the grip of drought, and it is a multi-dimensional crisis. This fact was highlighted at a national consultation on drought here on Sunday.

Yogendra Yadav, convener of Jai Kisan Andolan, told journalists that owing to the drought, people were battling for drinking water, food had become scarce, domestic cattle were dying a nomadic death and farms had turned fallow.

“Good rains [in the coming monsoon] may end the water crisis, yet food shortage will continue until the new crop comes in; the government needs to ensure food security,” Mr. Yadav said.

Bundelkhand was the worst affected. “Dal [pulses] has become a luxury for the ordinary people in Bundelkhand,” he said, appealing to the youth to help the people of the affected villages during their summer vacation.

“We will have a two-week internship programme for students during the summer vacation to serve in the drought-hit villages. Come and join to understand what’s going on…,” he said.

Mr. Yadav said Jai Kisan Andolan, along with other farmers’ organisation, would start a 10-day ‘Paidal Yatra’ from Latur in Marathwada to Mahoba in Bundelkhand on May 21 so as to implement the decisions taken at the consultation.

Farmers in a dozen States struggling with severe drought conditions and experts participated in the consultation, which was organised by Swaraj Abhiyan and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

‘Man-made crisis’

CSE director-general Sunita Narain said: “Drought in the 1990s was essentially the drought of a poor India. The 2016 drought is of richer and more water-guzzling India. This classless drought makes for a crisis that is more severe and calls for solutions that are more complex.

“The severity and intensity of drought is not about lack of rainfall; it is about the lack of planning and foresight, and criminal neglect. Drought is human-made.”