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Water scarcity forces Beed villagers to migrate

The acute water shortage caused by the drought has thrown villages like Awalwadi, Barwadi, Ukanda and Rajuri on extremely bad days

pune Updated: May 31, 2019 17:23 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Beed,villagers
Migration for jobs is very common in the Marathwada region(HT PHOTO)

Almost the entire village of Hatkarwadi in Shirur talukas of Beed district stands deserted as most of the villagers have migrated in search of water.

With the mercury having crossed 45 degree Celsius and the village wells and hand-pumps having gone dry, the villagers have had no other option but to migrate to the prosperous cities of western Maharashtra such as Pune, Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur.

Migration for jobs is very common in the Marathwada region. However, a cluster of villages in this parched region of Rayomgaon is battling to survive from the water woes which began early in December.

By the end of May 2019, around 90 per cent of the villagers from Hatkarwadi have been forced to migrate with their animals, leaving the elderly behind.

The acute water shortage caused by the drought has thrown villages like Awalwadi, Barwadi, Ukanda and Rajuri on extremely bad days. The main source of livelihood for Hatkarwadi villagers is agriculture and the rearing of animals and crops such as cotton, millets and maize are grown here. The water crisis has brought all of this to a halt.

Two of the four borewells and nine of the 12 wells have gone dry in this village of about 2300 people. Located 30 km from Beed, the village has two hand pumps which have also gone dry.

“We started facing acute water shortage since January this year as most of the wells and handpumps went dry. As a result, our traditional agricultural activity has been hit severely. Hence, most of the people have migrated towards Pune and Nashik in search of water and jobs. We now have just 10-15 families remains here,” said Rambhau Sadgar 47, who owns a farm of 1.5 acres in this village.

Sindhubai Kirvad,52 another villager was angry with the pathetic roads in the hilly area leading to the village. She said the bad roads were obstructing and preventing the water tankers from reaching the village.

She said due to the acute water distress, marriage proposals for the village youth “have also dried up like the borewells.”

According to her, “Families are reluctant to have their daughters married in this village fearing drinking water woes. Hence, out of sheer frustration, my son went to Nashik.”

More than 100 men in the 30-35 age group, belonging to the Maratha and Vanjari community are still bachelors.

“How can one live without water and without employment at the same time,” asked Appa Sadgar 50. He said as a result of the monsoon failure, there was no work for the agricultural labour. The farm workers used to work in the neighbouring villages. “But now, there is no work in the entire district,” he said.

The rearing of animals has become difficult as due to the water and fodder scarcity.

The district administration claimed that it had offered jobs for 44,000 people in district under the National Rural Employment Guarantee (EGS) scheme. District collector Astik Kumar Pandey said, “We have given instructions to provide work on demand under the EGS and besides that, the district administration has given permission for 599 fodder camps. As of now 908 water tankers are running in 632 villages.”

First Published: May 31, 2019 17:22 IST