MahabubNagar District Drought

By

 

Prof. R. Ramesh Reddy

Principal, College of Engineering

Osmania University, Hyderabad.

 

Introduction

 

Mahaboobnagar is the largest district in Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh State, with a geographical area of 18.4 Lakh Hectares. The entire district is covered under Krishna river basin. The river Krishna with its tributaries Bheema and Tungabhadra enters into A.P. through Mahaboobnagar. However percentage of Irrigation to cultivable area is 11.4% only and to the geographical area it is less than 5%. The normal rainfall was 650 mm and it fell to 534 mm. For the last few years, a combination of factors failed rainfall alternate years and lead to over-tapping of ground water level fell from 3mts to 30 mts. With a string of minor irrigation structures this district suffered from official negligence, leading to depletion of it’s resources. Further, irrigation investments have suffered on account of reorganization of states on linguistic basis (Bachawat Award 1972, Page 288). Though in terms of physical area it is the largest catchment area, undeveloped irrigation associated with ignored minor irrigation water resources, the district is continuously reeling under drought. It is now deprived of even minimum basic needs of drinking water. The frequent power hike is yet another slap on the hard working people of the district resulting in non-remunerative agricultural practices.

 

DROUGHT

 

Drought represents a situation of water shortage. A prolonged lack of precipitation less than average qualifies as drought. Different definitions have been proposed in India from time to time (IWRS-2001). Drought is a slow onset of natural hazard and it offers time and opportunity to mitigate its impact on socio-economic system both in time and space.

 

a)      Meteorological Drought: A significant decline in rainfall ( more than 25%) from the normal value over an area.

b)      Hydrological Drought: Prolonged meteorological drought with a marked depletion of water resources and consequent drying up of reservoirs, lakes, streams and rivers, cessation of spring flows and also fall in ground water level.

c)       Agricultural Drought: Soil moisture and rainfall are inadequate for a healthy crop and cause crop stress and wilting. Areas receiving less than 750 mm rainfall can be classified as drought prone, if there is no irrigation.

d)      Socio economic Drought: The reduction of food stuff availability and loss of income on account of crop failures endangering food and social security of the people in the affected areas.

e)      Famine: when large scale collapse of access to food occurs which without intervention, can lead to mass starvation and

f)        Ecological Drought: where the productivity of a natural eco-system fails significantly as a consequence of distress induced environmental damage.

 

The transition from  (a) to (c) is termed as early drought onset phase, characterizing low water storage, poor ground water recharging mostly in irrigated areas and inadequate soil moisture primarily in rain-fed areas to support crop growth, constitute the basic consequences of Drought. The situation of (d) to (f) constitutes ultimate consequence of Drought where community loses its exchange entitlements to food and productive assets.

 

Irrigation commission (1972) adopted the following criteria for identifying drought affected areas in the country:

(a)   The annual rainfall is less than 75% of normal in 20% of the years examined, and

(b)   Less than 30% of the cultivated area is irrigated.

 

Adopting the annual rainfall criteria as in (a) above and analyzing the rainfall data from 1901 to 1960, the commission identified Telengana region, and Mahaboobnagar is a district in the above region. Thus on all the above counts Mahaboobnagar district is a drought district as identified by Indian water resources society (2001).

 

Relief Measures

 

This situation requires to be faced by relief measure and support from the government. The Union government from time to time has launched number of programs to mitigate the drought. The objective is to provide employment during drought.   The following are some of the programs:

 

1. Community development program (CDP) – 1950-51.

2.      Intensive agriculture development program (IADP) & High yield variety program (HYVP) - 1956-61.

3.      Rural works program  (RWP) & Rural manpower program (RMP) -1961-65.

4.      Small farmers development agency (SFDA) and Marginal farmers  and Agriculture labourers  scheme (MFAL) – Fourth & Fifth five year plans.

5.      Drought prone area program (DPAP)  - 1974.

6.      Minimum needs program -1975-76.

7.      National rural employment program (NREP) - 1980-85.

8.      Rural landless employment guarantee program (RLEGP) - 1983.

9.      Integrated wasteland  development project (IWDP) – 1989.

10.  Jawahar Rojgar Yojana (JRY) – 1999.

11.  Employment assurance scheme (EAS) - 1993.

12.  Swarnajayanthi gram Swarojgar Yojana ( SGSY) – 1999.

13.   Food for work program (FFWP) - 2001.

 

All the above programs were taken up as drought relief measure. In the process targeted three life support systems, that is, land, water and forests, but each of them treated independently and were controlled by different agencies. All these programs were used by the successive governments in siphoning off funds in helping the cadres, politicians, rich, and administrators enriched while people became poorer and poorer. There is a need to have an integrated approach and involve villagers in the above. The greatest threat to these employment guarantee schemes in the words of Mohan Dharia is its style of implementation. He is of the opinion that Bureaucrats can’t manage social programs. Often all such relief measures have ended up as conspiracy of perpetual poverty. The droughts which are frequent, slow and have sufficient warning time to mitigate and occur repeatedly year after year, need not be just relief but to be tackled on permanent basis.

 

In Andhra Pradesh, especially in Mahaboobnagar district, the above programs have been used and misused in many innovative methods in enriching the cadres and in mobilizing the people support for the government. In 1983, the government has introduced Rs.2/ Kg scheme resulting in non remunerative price for pady cultivation. Secondly subsidies for oil seed cultivation encouraged farmers shifting to oil seed crops. The later day withdrawal of subsidies as well as Rs. 2/Kg rice , increase power rates, supply of power not more than 9 hours and presently it is only one hour assured power supply and frequent warnings of power cuts have resulted in less sowing areas. This resulted in shift of labour to other than agricultural activities with the active connivance of ruling party cadres and others migrating to urban areas in search of lively hood. Number of farmers incurred debt for saving the crops by means of pesticides and fertilizers purchase added to the misery of non-remunerative prices forced them to commit suicides. The shift to cotton and oil seeds is yet another blow to the sagging fortunes of farmers. The numerous Janmabhumi programs launched by the government although laudable are big failure in reality. The funds are spent in huge amounts without any accountability, the elected bodies have no role while cadres are empowered to implement. However in some of the areas where NGOs are involved some real benefits are accrued in the form Neeru- Meeru programs and DWACRA where women are empowered. Despite of numerous programs launched for mitigating the drought, despite of huge amount being spent, liberal World Bank loans being drawn, there is no permanent mechanism of implementation.There is no proper method of accountability. The real intentions of the ruling party are suspected. The role of Bureaucrat has become subservient to the ruling party. The majority of politicians and people in general lacking patriotic spirit, the democratic rights not being asserted by the people and fast changing scenario associated with globalization and privatization, one has to wait and watch for the impending danger specially during the drought times the agony of poor illiterate masses and indifferent political parties playing the games of religion, regions, casts and border disputes. Time alone will prove what is in store for the nation.

 

One has to wait and see whether Mahaboobnagar survives this onslaught from all sides, as these people are innocent, hardworking, majority illiterate and believers in karma philosophy, but not revolting under any circumstances. This is poor state of affairs where the law of the jungle prevails and it is difficult for the survival of human beings vis-vi the nature. Finally I conclude “Having born on this earth, the greatest tribute mankind can pay to this world is nurture the nature and practice humanity to save the planet from extinction”.

 

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