Drought triggers exodus from Anantapur

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on May 09, 2017

File photo of people boarding a Bengaluru-bound bus at Anantapur bus stand

Civil society report says a tenth of population has left

Severe drought conditions in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, has prompted a mass exodus from the region, as locals face water scarcity, depleting fodder supply for animals and death of farm animals, a fact- finding team from the civil society has found.

A team from organisations such as Human Rights Forum, ASHA-Kisan Swaraj Network and Mahila Samakhya, visted seven villages of Anantapur district on May 6 and 7.

Mass migration

The report said an estimated 4.87 lakh people have migrated from the district. According to the 2011 census, the district had a population of over 4 crore people. If the migration estimates are correct, over a tenth of the district’s population has been forced to leave.

Temperatures in the district are remaining consistently over 40 degrees Celsius. An official declaration of drought in the district was made last November.

“Rainfall was just 284 mm against 722.4 mm in 2010-11,” the report released on Monday said, adding that over 42 per cent of the agricultural borewells in the district had dried up by April this year, while groundwater levels have dipped to 70-90 metres in many places.

Death and destruction

The report states that deaths of milch animals as well small ruminant animals such as goats and sheep, due to a variety of reasons — including shortage of fodder, heat and contaminated water — are forcing distress sale of animals.

The team reported to have found instances where Public Distribution System dealers were denying people ration for want of ration cards, despite the Supreme Court order last year mandating distribution of subsidised ration to all in drought-hit areas, irrespective of possession of ration cards. The report also notes that some students were denied mid-day meals due to lack of possession of Aadhaar cards.

Farmer suicides, deaths due to sunstroke and large-scale migration were other issues pointed out by the report.

Faltering farm output following six consecutive years of drought has increased the need and demand for work under the rural employment guarantee scheme. However, despite the dire situation, the district reportedly has ₹ 82 crore of pending wage payments.

“Arrears from last year were being reported by some workers, while yet others are waiting to get their wage payments for work done three months ago! Some received a partial payment only. These delays have become a major deterrent for work-seekers in NREGS, and are abetting migration from the villages. No single case of compensation being paid for delays beyond 15 days for wage payments was encountered. Workers were not aware of this entitlement,” the report noted.

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Published on May 09, 2017
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