A child plays in front of a locked house whose residents have migrated.
An old man was sitting on his front porch in the afternoon. The fields were barren and empty and so was the village. We were in a small village of Chandrod Taluka. Bapu Mogal, a sarpanch member owns 17 acres of land. But today he is a landowner turned construction worker, for that land is of no use without a drop of water to irrigate. Just few years ago, he earned a profit of over 3 lakhs yet aiming to just break-even today is a distant possibility.
Even through the Employment Guarantee Scheme, work is short lived pushing the farmers back to the state of being jobless. To support their livelihood, villagers have taken loans from the credit society, however failed crops sent them into a limbo where they can’t repay the existing loan and can’t take a new loan either to continue work in their fields. To get out of this situation, more than 25 families of this village have migrated to nearby Chandrod and Nasik cities to find work.
Twenty two year old Pathan Mousina Jamil is prompt to show me the way to the lane where all houses are locked up. These families migrated to the city in search of work. Pathan has studied till 12th standard however he failed in final exams. He’d like to retake the exam but to support his family both him and his brother are now working as construction workers.
Seventeen year old Amol Bajirao Kasbe, was sitting alone in front of his makeshift hut. His sick mother has moved to the nearby town in search of work while he stays alone in this house. He studied till 10th and has discontinued his studies to also work now as a construction worker.
Further ahead in Rajpur village, many farmers planted onion and sugarcane crops and understandably suffered losses since the crops didn’t survive the drought, causing mass migrations to cities and to work in sugarcane fields. I heard similar stories in Beed district as well where young sons left for cities and sugarcane factories to deal with the drought and unemployment leaving their parents behind.
While not all of these migrating people are landless laborers, during the better days when the fields flourished, they used to find work in others’ fields. They could find work in their own village and all through the year. Today even the landowners are living in such dire conditions that they are not able to provide any sort of employment for others. The entire business model that was once supporting whole communities has broken down due to drought, disrupting lives of everyone directly and indirectly involved in farming. Occasional employment opportunities, largely unemployed and displaced from their villages and away from their families, the repercussions of a state reeling in severe drought is pushing people towards a downward spiral.
While driving back, 3 of us were discussing how drought is causing people to migrate to cities in search of viable employment. Meanwhile our driver, Sonu Pagar, turns back and tells us he is also one of the migrants who had moved to Nasik with his family after the crops failed continuously in his village, Khadak Malegaon!
Images: © Neelima Vallangi/Greenpeace
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Neelima is a travel blogger and photographer. She travelled across the drought-hit regions of Maharastra to find out the reality of the situation in the area.
Disclaimer: All views/opinions expressed in this articles are of the author/writer and NOT of this website.