India farmer - "who took my dam water?"
gerrypopplestone | March 31, 2009 at 10:22 pmby
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"The government does not care about farmers. Why should I bother to vote",
Dadarao Thakse is a fortyfive year old farmer with ten acres of land. He lives in Amaravati, in the Indian state of Maharashtra. He is angry with the government for not fulfilling its promises to small farmers like him in Maharashtra.
Earlier, he took out a huge bank loan. The government said they could supply all his water needs from a huge dam they are building nearby. “Now the dam is not even finished and they have already gone back on that promise”, he told Dharmendra Jore, a journalist from theKolkata paper, Hindustan Times (today’s report). “They are planning to give a quarter of all that water to one private company for a thermal power plant”.
Only eleven percent of Maharashtra farmland is irrigated. This compares with 99 percent in Punjab, the state with the greatest amount of irrigated farmland. Water is a crucial resource that is in desperately short supply across many drought riven parts of India. In the six drought prone districts of Vidarbha (in Mahararashtra state), two farmers commit suicide everyday (on average throughout each year). They kill themselves through desperation. They are caught in the cycle of poor rainfall, crop failures and unmanageable debts. “Farmers use the village moneylender when they go hungry. What else can they do?” he asks the journalist.
Dadarao took out the bank loan because he wanted to better himself. He figured that, with the promised steady supply of water, he could upgrade his planting to more profitable water-intensive crops like soya or even flowers for export. Now he is the same cycle of poverty as other farmers: no water – poor crops – growing debts – bank letters demanding immediate repayments.
As far as as he is concerned, the coming elections are the last thing on Dadarao’s mind. “The government does not care about farmers”, he says. “Why should I bother to vote?”
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