The drought that was

“People are desperate and if this ensures food and money to them, so be it. There is no other way of getting it to them, even if there is corruption,” said a prominent minister of the BJP government. Little does it help drought-hit farmers when they are assured of food with corruption. Thus begins the story of Karnataka’s drought.

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The drought condition in 2012 is the worst in the last 10 years in Karnataka. According to Government reports, 24 of 30 districts are drought affected, spreading across 123 taluks. The state government released Rs.250 lakhs for relief measures in early February, little of which has reached the deprived.

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Soaring temperatures in these areas have left many water sources dried up. Basic drinking water is scarce in many areas. Taluk officials arrange water tankers from different villages for those affected.

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Dried water body.

 

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The actual pre-monsoon rainfall in North Interior Karnataka recorded 93.5mm in 2011 in comparison to 64.3mm in 2012. An infrared image taken by Kalpana1 satellite showing the cloud movement as of Feb 2012.

 

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Agriculture Officer Vital Rao explains- this year there is 90% failure in crop, owing to low rainfall which leads to low or no germination. Farmers find it hard to pay their loans and increasing interest rates. At desperate times they take drastic measures.

 

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The shortage of water has not only left many farmers in trouble but has taken a toll on the livestock too. The government has built goshalas (cow sheds) where animals are given fodder and taken care of.

 

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The shortage of water has not only left many farmers in trouble but has taken a toll on the livestock too. The government has built goshalas (cow sheds) where animals are given fodder and taken care of.

 

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Due to the high cost of maintenance and lack of irrigation, many farmers have abandoned their crops. Pictured is a dried maize plantation.

 

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85 year old Kurvatayya has been using the lake since his childhood. He says the lake had never dried up but the current condition of it saddens him. Several digging vehicles are working for weeks on the dried lake to prepare for the next rain.

 

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In Yaraguppi, water is supplied through water tankers twice a day and people pay Rs. 20/- to 30/- per bucket. Pictured, people gather around a public tap during one hour of water supply in the evening.

 

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People from different village come to Yaraguppi to collect water. Pictured is, Lakshmi from a nearby village walks to Yaraguppi to fill water, she says, “water has become like gold here. People fight to get their share and what we collect here is used for domestic purpose and for cattle”.

 

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Due to low rainfall this fertile land is used as a cricket field. Youngsters turn this land into a cricket ground for their annual cricket competition.

 

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This year they chose to conduct a cricket competition next to the highway to attract more audience. Pictured are students practicing for their annual cricket competition, near Hubli district.

 

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With the drought politicized, monsoon approaching and the state government waking up from its slumber, we are only reminded of Dwight Morrow’s lines: “Any party which takes credit for the rain must not be surprised if its opponents blame it for the drought.”

 

Satellite image credits: India Meteorological Department, archive.