In focus: drought | Karnataka 2018

Karnataka Assembly Elections 2018: Drought forces weddings to go low-key in Mandya

It is Lakshmi’s wedding with Raju (names changed). But there is no sign of any grand celebration in front of the marriage hall in their village.

It has been a tradition in this part of the State to hold marriages for two days, with a reception on marriage eve, breakfast the next day and a grand marriage lunch. But this couple has decided to shrink the wedding to less than a day, marked by one simple meal.

Cutting down on marriage extravaganza in Ajjalli and surrounding villages of Maddur taluk is a new phenomenon.

“A majority of the marriages in our villages are now being held in a simple manner because farmers are facing a financial crisis due to three consecutive droughts,” says Krishna Prasad, a sericulture farmer. Even death ceremonies have now become a low-key affair due to financial constraints, he points out.

“Though the situation is better in other parts of the Cauvery basin, we are in dire straits because we are tail-end farmers. There is so much water shortage that whatever water is released even for protective irrigation (one or two rounds of water release only to ensure that the standing crop does not wilt) does not reach our fields,” he says.

Other farmers in the village too join him in explaining the difficulties of tail-end farmers in the Cauvery command area. “We do not have any work for the last three years as only a few families in the village who have borewells are continuing farm operations,” says another farmer B. M. Rajanna.

The present water crisis is set to leave a permanent scar on their finances as a large tract of coconut groves have dried up. “We are removing the completely dried-up coconut palms. It is really a painful task as we consider them sacred,” says Mr. Krishnaprasad.

“Several villagers have sold off parts of their farm lands to arrange finances for education and marriage of their children as our incomes have almost dried up,” says Basave Gowda, who has just one acre of land.

The only silver lining for them is dairy farming. “Almost all the families in our village have now taken up dairy farming. In fact, the cow population has increased at least by 200 in the last three years in our village. This is because we can get some steady income. We grow fodder on our lands with the help of water that has been purchased from those having borewells,” says Mr. Gowda.

Despite this, drought is not an election issue in these villages. “If you raise the issue with politicians who come here for campaigning, they assure us of solving the issue. But as farmers, we know that things are not in their hands. There is shortage of water in KRS reservoir and the State has to share water with Tamil Nadu,” Mr. Gowda says, as villagers wait for top leaders to visit their village to request them to provide alternative employment.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 5:20:22 AM |

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