With water situation worsening by the day, their livelihood is at stake

We are in July now, but there is a hardly any agriculture activity in Krishna district. The impact of lack of irrigation water was visible on Sunday when the Machilipatnam - Visakhapatnam passenger train came on the platform – there was a beeline of rural folk in their traditional attire ready for boarding the train.

They did not care for the rain, and marched or ran towards the coaches carrying bags of clothes in hands and heavy iron boxes of rice on their shoulders. This grim picture at the Machilipatnam railway station reveals a pathetic tale of invisible migration of farmers from Krishna district to the Godavari districts in search of livelihood.

“Each of the 15 families, that boarded the train, hails from Diviseema villages and holds a piece of land along the Krishna river. Few possess own land while others are into tenancy” said a tenant farmer Koranki Somayya of Mandapakala village in Koduru mandal. Above 40 men and women, including Mr. Somayya’s wife Subbamma and his only son Yuvaraju, a BCom drop out, had to reach their temporary workplace by early July to get some income.

Contract price

They fear that the usual contract price for kharif operations per acre in those districts too might come down from present Rs. 2,500 to less than Rs. 2,000 as many migrants from Diviseema villages are vying for the same work. During the migration period, major farmers give certain extent of land to the migrant labourers on contact to complete the entire operation – from preparation of the land, collection of paddy saplings to sowing.

In June, the irrigation authorities announced that Krishna river water was likely to be released into its canals by July-end due to uncompleted canal modernisation works in the Diviseema area. “In the rabi season, we were agricultural labourers in Nellore district as there was no water in Krishna district. Kharif operations will start by July-end. Now, we should generate income to start operations in our own lands,” said another migrant K. Srinivasa Rao.

He boarded the train along with his wife and teenage daughter. Farmers from Koduru, Nagayalanka, Avanigadda mandals in the Diviseema area have been migrating for the past couple of days. With heavy inflows into the Godavari, kharif operations are in full swing in the Godavari Districts.