Drought spurs debts, delays weddings in this village

Drought spurs debts, delays weddings in this village
Karjat, Maharashtra:  A ten-hour drive from Mumbai leads to Karjat, a village with 600 homes. The lacerations of drought rankle through its narrow and dusty lanes.

Failed crops, properties pledged to money-lenders, people locking up houses to move to cities to look for jobs - almost every household in Karjat reflects troubles hounding the eight districts of Marathwada, which are reeling from a drought reminiscent of the 1972 famine.

In a brick-and-tin hut by a parched field, Ganesh Bansode, his head shaved, is mourning for his father who committed suicide on March 21. "We'd speak over the phone daily, for almost an hour. He never hinted of any trouble and instead, would ask if I needed more money," said Ganesh, who was studying in Mumbai to become a teacher but will now have to move back home and settle for a humbler job, if at all he lands one. "I can't leave my mother alone now, and there is no one to look after the field," he says.

Ganesh's father had an acre of wasted sweet lime crop and a debt of Rs 2.5 lakh for his son's education and his daughter's wedding. The combination drove him to suicide.

Most of Jalna's sweet lime crop spread over 27,000 hectares has withered; there is no water; irrigation by tubewells or tankers is prohibitively expensive.
Kakasaheb Kokate, a farmer, cannot pay for his daughter's wedding this year. "I had to call the wedding off. Dowry demands don't go away even during these tough times," he says.
At 11 am, a water tanker - the first the village has seen in four days - arrives. Hundreds rush to grab their share. Each family is assigned 200 litres of water from every tanker.

Irrelevant for the farms that have surrendered nearby.
Story First Published: April 05, 2013 13:43 IST

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