Hunger, cattle deaths haunt Bundelkhand: Swaraj Abhiyaan survey

  • Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 10, 2016 10:59 IST
A dried up lake in Prithvipur town in parched Bundelkhand region. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT Photo)

A disaster-like situation has gripped Bundelkhand, a parched region spanning UP and Madhya Pradesh, due to drought, with households battling hunger, cattle deaths and water scarcity, not-for-profit Swaraj Abhiyaan has said, citing a survey done by it.

The organisation, led by academic-activist Yogendra Yadav, said there were signs of a humanitarian crisis in a majority of the 122 villages. Alleging insufficient drought aid and mitigation, the NGO is fighting a public-interest case in Supreme Court, following which the top court had issued notices to the Centre.

Water shortage has been alarming in four large districts --Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Panna and Datia – in Madhya Pradesh, Yadav said.

“About 59% villages in UP reported having more than 10 families who do not manage two square meals a day. The corresponding number in MP was 35%. Reports of people resorting to begging for food or using poor quality foodgrain substitutes like ‘fikar’(wild grass seed), have also been received,” Yadav said.

In this photograph taken on April 27, 2016, a cow stands in a dried up pond in Bangaye on the outskirts of Tikamgarh district in Madhya Pradesh. Tikamgarh is part of central India's parched Bundelkhand region -- consisting of 13 districts, half of which lie in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. (AFP)

Bundelkhand is a drought-prone impoverished region of 70,000 sqkm spanning 13 districts of UP and Madhya Pradesh. This is the third straight year of drought in the area.

Several villages are facing “acute shortage” of drinking water and a large number of cattle deaths have pushed people further into further poverty, Yadav said, alleging that authorities were not acting adequately. Yadav said 40% of the 43 villages toured in Madhya Pradesh had “two or less” hand pumps.

The organization claimed both state governments weren’t doing enough to ramp up the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Yadav said in the 79 villages in Uttar Pradesh surveyed, the situation was better compared to Madhya Pradesh.

“An abysmally low 5% villages in MP reported ongoing employment work for job holders under MNREGS while the percentage was 29 in UP villages,” Yadav said.

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