The south Indian states of Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, parts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and Union Territory of Puducherry are facing severe drought.
Tamilnadu is facing a serious drought ever known in the history of the state. Excepting Chennai Metro city, the whole of Tamilnadu is in the grip of worst drought. Both the monsoons – South West and North East failed to the extent deficit of more than 62 per cent rainfall. Lakhs and lakhs of acres cultivable lands remain fallow due to scarcity of water. Lands which were cultivated with the limited water the crops withered. Paddy, groundnut, cotton, corn, sugarcane, banana including other crops withered in few lakh acres.
The Cauvery delta which is the granery of paddy which supplies nearly one-third of rice to the state completely failed. More than 12 lakh aces of cultivable lands that too two crops left fallow land without sowing. The paddy crops withered in another few lakh acres which were cultivated with limited water.
All the tanks, lakes and reservoirs like Mettur and Vaigai is dried up. In many parts of the state, there is acute shortage of drinking water. Even Chennai is faced with drinking water scarcity. The ground water is depleting all over the state. Faced with innumerable difficulties, death of farmers committing suicides and due to shock is increasing every hour. Until now, more than 120 farmers died. The agricultural workers livelihood has become very bad. It is difficult for the daily wager’s families to find a single meal a day which may result in starvation deaths. Farmers selling their cattle for a throw away price since it is difficult to provide water and straw.
Despite repeated appeals and agitation of the farmers association and political party, the government of Tamilnadu has not resorted to any fruitful measures to meet the miseries of the people. Now the state government has formed committees to study the drought condition. Union Territory of Puducherry coming under Cauvery delta is also affected by drought.
Kerala is experiencing a historic low rainfall with the South West Monsoon season (June to September 2016) reporting 34% below normal rainfall and the North East Monsoon season (October to December 2016) reporting 61% below normal. The State Government of Kerala declared the entire state as drought affected in the month of October. In Kerala, the overall storage has depleted to 47% while the expected for the month was 90% of the storage. Ground water depletion is reported from even water rich segments.
Agriculture, dairy and poultry sector has started facing heat and water stress related production losses. Pest attack on crops is seen reported from many parts of the state. Farmers involved in paddy, sugarcane cultivation, banana, cotton, corn, perennial crops such as rubber, coconut, coffee etc. are all affected due to this situation. Distress sale of cattle and poultry has been reported. Cattle are sold at throw away price as small and marginal farmers cannot afford to maintain them due to shortage of cattle feed and drinking water.
Karnataka received 20% below normal South West Monsoon rainfall and 62% below normal North East Monsoon rainfall. Karnataka declared drought in 139 out of 175 taluks. This is the third consecutive year Karnataka facing drought. Water levels in the reservoirs are reaching historic low levels. This situation was unprecedented.
The prediction was for a surplus rainfall during the south-west monsoon seasons and hence farmers had planned and worked towards cropping in such water conditions. Deficit was not expected and this has severely affected the downtrodden farmers and farm labourers in these states. The situation, as it aggravates will affect all walks of life. Water stress is already felt in many parts of these states forcing the Governments to undertake water supply through tankers.
The draconian attempt to sabotage the financial stability of the country through demonetisation has further added to the ongoing misery of the poor and the working class. With limited availability of hard earned cash and the forced decapitation of the cooperative sector has ensured that farmers have no choice but to suffer the misery, continue toiling and somehow survive or commit suicide. In light of this crisis, the Central Committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist) hereby urges the following to the respective Governments:
1. The Kerala and Karnataka governments have already declared their states as drought affected. Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments and government of Puducherry Union Territory should immediately declare the states as drought affected.
2. Government of India should immediately release the amount of additional assistance requested by the respective states from the National Disaster Response Fund relaxing the norms of additional assistance
3. Considering the unprecedented crisis and the deficit of rainfall in two seasons, all farmers should be provided twice the amount of approved rates of assistance under the National Disaster Response Fund
4. Special assistance package for agricultural and animal husbandry sectors should be declared for the drought affected states
5. Additional allotment of food grains, cereals and kerosene should be provided to the drought affected states for distribution through public distribution systems
6. Allocation for NREGS be doubled and arrears be paid immediately.