Karnataka is facing severe drought, following scarcity in rainfall, resulting in farmer deaths and suicides. With little or no support from the irrigation department and government officials, these farmers chose to take their own lives to make a point. The recent news of a farmer hanging himself at Valagerehalli in Maddur taluk on Saturday is just a case in point. In fact, there are many like him who have run pillar to post and have resorted to this extreme step, finding no other solution. 

Meanwhile, close to 98 taluks and 26 districts in the state have been declared severely drought-hit after the failure of the southwest monsoon. According to the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra, these districts have witnessed dry spell for the past 2 months as a result of which farmers have not been able to start Kharif sowing. In fact, 10 of the 16 affected districts are in North Karnataka and they are Yadgir, Gadag, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Vijayapura. The 13 most important reservoirs in the state have also dried up and have failed to support the farmers. 

Reservoir levels alarming

The Karnataka government has reached a dead-end as the last support of the farmers-the 13 reservoirs in the state have also dried up. According to a report by Deccan Herald, the alarming levels of water in the reservoirs are as follows:

 

  • Supa 145.33 64.78
  • Varahi 31.13 17.67
  • Harangi 8.50 8.31
  • Tungabhadra 100.86 69.57
  • Linganamakki 151.75 66.05
  • KRS 49.45 28.64
  • Kabini 19.52 17.60
  • Bhadra 71.53 50.01
  • Almatti 123.08 72.45
  • Ghataprabha 51.00 19.52
  • Malaprabha 37.73 12.43
  • Hemavathi 37.10 28.62
  • Narayanapura 33.31 26.47

 

Like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu is also suffering from extreme drought. The Tamil Nadu government informed the Supreme Court on Friday that 30 farmers have committed across the state in 2016-2017. However, unofficial figures pose a grim picture of the situation, given the fact the farmer community of Tamil Nadu were seen protesting at Jantar Mantar protesting the inaction of the government to save its farmers. 

What the government is doing?

The family of the 30 farmers who committed suicide in Tamil Nadu have been given a compensation of Rs 3 lakh from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund. Following the spike in farmer deaths, the state and central governments have set up counselling teams to dissuade farmers from taking that extreme step. Introduction of collective farming and dip irrigation worth Rs 2,000 are some of the other things that have been introduced. 

Waiving off farmer loans and providing relief are some of the other measures that Tamil Nadu is taking. Stating that the state has faced the most severe droughts in 100 years, the state government has extended crop loans to the tune of over Rs 4000 crore to 7 lakh farmers. 

Back in Karnataka, the grand fourth celebration of the Karnataka has been stalled in order to use the money to provide relief to the farmers. "However, that is not sufficient. How long can these small gestures last?"

All said and done, until and unless the farmers are given the external support and infrastructure so that they stop depending on rain water alone, the situation will continue to be so grim during every drought.