Drought forces farm labourers to migrate to other places in search of livelihood, and for a district like Chitradurga in Central Karnataka, which has witnessed drought for 73 of the last 100 years, migration has become an annual event.
This year’s situation is far worse, pushing migration from 15 percent to 30 percent, and fall in the price of principal crops like maize and onion. With no government initiatives to create employment opportunities, the extent of migration has worsened.
Labourers from Rampur, Molkalmuru and surrounding areas move to the Ballari district, which has several industries and more commercial activities when compared with Chitradurga.
People from other taluks, like Chitradurga, Hiriyur and Challakere, move to Bengaluru to look for work in garment factories. Some head for even Andhra Pradesh.
A few decades ago, Challakere taluk had several oil factories that were shut down, reportedly because of the non-availability of groundnut and other oil seeds at affordable prices, which forced migration.
Economist G.N. Mallikarjunappa said that elected representatives in the district had failed to create an industry-friendly environment and don’t appear to be keen on attracting investments.
“At least they should have taken steps to encourage small and cottage industries to stop migration,” he said.
Elected representatives are, however, just passing on the buck. S. Thippeswamy, MLA for Molakalmuru, where the migration is higher, said that the government had failed to understand the severity of the situation. According to him, the release of crop loss compensation would have probably checked migration.