09:35 GMT +325 June 2019
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    An Indian woman carries drinking water containers

    Drought Woes: Farmers Forced to Cancel Marriages in Arid India

    © AFP 2019 / Prakash SINGH
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    India is in the midst of a drought of epic proportions. The severity of drought is such that people from rural areas are migrating to urban areas for greener pastures. Whereas in some parts of India citizens are being forced to postpone their daughters' marriage due to the lack of water.

    Crop failure and water crisis due to back to back droughts have created panic in rural India. Almost all of central India and parts of northern and southern India are in the grip of drought and water shortage.

    Sixty-eight percent of India's population lives in rural areas and 15 percent of its GDP come from agriculture. But due to the drought agricultural work in many parts of India is at a standstill.

    ​Due to the prevailing situation of drought, which owes to the failure of a monsoon season for the last three years, rural folks are leaving their homes and migrating to big cities for greener pastures. There are several instances of farmers desperately trying to sell cattle as there is little agricultural work left in villages and farmers cannot afford to feed their cattle.

    For the past several months farmers of the hardest drought hit areas of Marathwada, Vidarbha and Budelkhand have been migrating to urban areas. But their situation remains precarious as not all of them have been able to find work in cities. Further large migration is also putting the cities' infrastructure under pressure.

    The situation is somewhat similar in other parts of Jharkhand where parents are forced to cancel their daughters' weddings due to the severe water shortage.

    People fill their containers with water from water at n Indian a village
    © REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui
    People fill their containers with water from water at n Indian a village

    Sundarpur, in the eastern state of Jharkhand, which also happens to be the native village of Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha, is also facing a severe water crisis. Sputnik talked to some of the villagers and found out that parents are shunning marriage ceremonies as there is not enough water for daily chores.

    Usha Devi of Sundarpur told Sputnik that, "We have to postpone the marriage as we cannot guarantee the availability of drinking water for our guests. To fetch a bucket of water we have to travel a distance of more than 5 to 6 km."

    Schools in many parts of drought-stricken Marathwada and Budelkhand are closed due to the severe heat wave and water crisis. Due to the drought children have to walk miles to fetch a bucket of water. One 12-year-old girl lost her life while fetching water due to exhaustion and the intense heat in the Beed district of Marathwada region. In another freak accident, an 11-year-old boy fell into the well while fetching water in the same area.

    ​Better late than never, Central government will now send a team to study the water situation in drought-affected areas in the country and prepare a long-term plan of possible actions to tackle the drought. Further, Central Water Commission and Central Ground Water Board teams have been asked to analyze the causes leading to the drought and identify challenges to the water resources. Central team will also find out long-term solutions and suggest measure for protection, management and restoration of water bodies. The Central fact finding team will submit its report to the Water Resources Ministry till June last.

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    heat wave, heat, marriage, extreme heat, drought, India
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