It is the same old story. Bihar is in the grip of drought and flood at the same time. While overflowing rivers originating in Nepal have submerged large parts of north Bihar, south-central parts of the state remain parched.
The weather has taken its toll on the crops and has also triggered migration. The situation is so serious that there is need for relief and rescue operations, as agriculture minister Narendra Singh acknowledged during a debate in the state assembly on Thursday.
“In order to survive, we’ll have to take loans at high interest. Able-bodied persons will migrate to other states in search of livelihood. Being a sharecropper, I won’t even get diesel subsidy”, said Ram Swarup, 80, of Dihuri village of Tekari block in Gaya.
With 75% of the traditional canal system of irrigation having collapsed due to lack of maintenance, farmers have to use diesel pump sets to draw ground water for irrigation. The state government sanctions for them diesel at subsidised rates to operate these pump sets.
According to the state government, 443 blocks out of a total of 534 have received less than 20% rainfall this year. The situation is bad enough for 24 districts to be declared drought-hit, said leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav.