Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Distressed Telugu farmers sell cattle, migrate as labourers

- HT Correspond­ent

Second successive year of drought, t he worst in recent times, has hit hard Telugu-speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, triggering migration and distress sale of cattle by farmers.

With water levels in most major reservoirs across Krishna and Godavari rivers reaching dead storage and ground water plummeting further, almost entire Telangana and parts of Andhra are reeling with water scarcity.

Scarcity of fodder has dealt a blow to the crisis-ridden agricultur­e. Farmers in the worst-hit Mahabubnag­ar, Nizamabad and Nalgonda districts of Telangana and in perenniall­y droughtpro­ne Anantapur district of Rayalaseem­a are selling away their cattle to slaughterh­ouses.

With no fodder and water, small farmers are unable to maintain the cattle. The farmers, who have milch animals for additional income, are also selling them off at half the price. For instance, cattle from various villages in Nalgonda district are brought to the weekly Kondamadug­u market for sale.

“I couldn’t have seen it dying of hunger and thirst. So I sold it away,” said G Narsaiah, a farmer from Nalgonda district who sold the two bullock he had. The animals are dying because of heat wave. Families dependent on cattle breeding are being forced to sale them. There are also reports of farmers and ag riculture labourers migrating to cities abandoning their pets. Hundreds of people from Mahabubnag­ar, Nizamabad and other districts of Telangana have migrated to cities such as Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bengaluru and Mumbai to work as constructi­on labourers. While migration is an annual phenomenon, the numbers have gone up due to the severity of drought.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme has also taken a hit because of the scorching summer and also non-payment of wage dues to the labourers. Telangana has declared holidays for schools a week in advance due to the heat wave. The government has announced that midday meal scheme for school children will continue even during holidays. Targetting t he Telang ana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government for failing to tackle the situation, opposition parties and NGOs are demanding relief measures on war footing.

Te lang ana government declared 231 mandals (revenue units comprising a varying number of villages) of 443 rural mandals in the state, drought-hit. In Andhra, 359 mandals of 670 have been declared drought-hit. The water levels in 14 major reservoirs have fallen alarmingly. In Telangana, water level has plummeted further.

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