FEATURE-In India’s parched Bundelkhand, drought brings a tide of migration
IGLAS, India, July 5 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Khuba Chand increasingly finds himself alone in Iglas, a drought-parched village in the Bundelkhand region of India’s Madhya Pradesh state.
As ever-lengthening drought becomes the new normal, Bundelkhand, a parched region split between India’s Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh states, is clearing out.
In Chand’s village, in Tikamgarh district, only a quarter of the 70 farmers working there 10 years ago now remain.
India’s government runs a national employment guarantee scheme under which those in need of work in rural areas can be paid for 100 days of it each year.
The Madhya Pradesh government announced last year, for instance, that it would no longer include work to de-silt and deepen water ponds as part of employment under the job scheme.
Some drought-hit families in Madhya Pradesh who relied on that work now have lost it, they say.
“The rivers flow when there is good rainfall during the monsoon season.
But the measures have not been enough to stop large-scale migration of rural villagers to urban areas.
The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also in January announced a $20 million relief package for farmers in drought-hit areas, including supplies of drinking water and fodder for animals.
The India Meteorological Department has said there is low probability that 2018 will be a drought year.