Bare farms, desolate lanes, locked homes & near-empty villages – images that play in a loop in village after village in the drought hit rural Maharashtra. Lakhs of people have abandoned their homes to migrate to the cities and towns for work, for survival.
Pulkoti is a village in Mann Taluka of Satara district in western Maharashtra. The village has been facing an acute water shortage like the rest of the taluka since August 2018. But the situation worsened in November where all water sources including the 300 odd wells in the village completely dried up.
Ashabhai Kokare, who owns a mango orchard says it has become really difficult for her to maintain the farm. She spends Rs.800 to rent a tanker to water her 70 odd mango trees every four days. ” I have 3 sons. All of them have left the village because there is no food, no grains, nothing here” she adds.
It was only in January, the village has received access to a 25000 litre tanker that provides water to the entire village every alternate day. This means most families get water only once in three days.
“Every family gets only 40-45 litres of water per day. We use it for all household purposes. Sometimes we use the same water with which we bathe for washing clothes as well” says Hanumant Sawant, now a migrant labourer in Mumbai.
“The drought has affected goat farmers like me very badly. I would have had 22 goats by now, but I only keep 12 now. I sold around 8-10 goats as I could not afford fodder” he adds. Hanumant’s 1/2 acre land also lays barren for the past 9 months.
The Maharashtra government claims that it has made direct cash transfers to farmers like Sawant as drought assistance. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis said that Rs.4412 crores have been disbursed to 68 lakh farmers and 3200 crores have been set aside for crop insuran