The Central Railways rushed a special ‘Water Train’ to parched Latur in Marathwada in 2016 to mitigate the drinking water crisis in the region haunted by severe drought. Today, farmers in Latur say that something should be done to stop rains that are inundating fields and damaging crops.
But it’s not just Latur, all the drought-affected areas in Maharashtra have received heavy seasonal and unseasonal rains in the last three years resulting in massive floods damaging crops and incurring heavy losses.
Crops standing over 11.28 lakh hectares (provisional) have been affected due to hydro metrological calamities, including floods in Maharashtra in the year 2020-21 according to the union government data. Maharashtra farmers have consecutively suffered losses because of floods and unseasonal rains in the last few years. In 2019-20 about 4.17 lakh hectare crops were affected due to rains.
In the current financial year (from July to November 2021) crops of over 4.55 lakh hectares have been affected due to natural calamities and 489 people have died. Also there was loss of 4,400 livestock and over 53,000 houses were damaged during this period.
The data given by Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Ministry of Home Affairs to Rajya Sabha early this week confirms the massive loss Maharashtra farmers have suffered. As per the flood forecasting network of the Central Water Commission during the last 3 years, extreme floods were witnessed in Maharashtra due to excess to large excess rainfall combined with extremely heavy rainfall in a short duration.
In 2018-19, 101 people lost their lives followed by 253 people in 2019-20 and 215 people in 2020-21. In 2019-20 about 1,09,714 houses were damaged while in 2020-21 the number of houses damaged is 2,97,013.
Farmers claim that the damage is much more than the government figures adding that the crops on 25 lakh hectares have been damaged this monsoon. “During the 2016 drought, rains evaded the region after sowing. We suffered losses. But in the last few years, we have suffered double losses as the crop ready for harvesting has been damaged. It takes huge effort and money to raise the crop and we are not even able to recover sowing cost” says Radhabai Yadav from Latur.
Farmer leader Amar Habib from Beed says that the agro-economy has suffered heavily in the last three years. “ Farming community is completely broken. Losses for three consecutive years have pushed more and more families into destitution” he says.
Farmers in the region say that rains in the last three years have caused more damage than severe droughts.
As per the flood forecasting network of CWC, during the last 3 years, in addition to existing flood-prone States of Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, extreme floods (water level above previous highest flood level) were witnessed in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan due to excess to large excess rainfall in these States combined with extremely heavy rainfall in short duration.