Kheelghatta In Karnataka: A Portrait Of A Village Struggling With Drought

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There are around 1500 people in this village which is close to the Shimsha river and grows rice and sugarcane that use up a lot of water.


Bengaluru:  Kheelghatta is a non-descript village with no ancient temples, famous people or tourist spots. There is nothing special about this village but it falls in Karnataka's Mandya - the district that saw the highest number of farmer suicides in Karnataka last year. With summer getting unusually harsh, people here are trying to cope with the heat and the drought.  

"We have not seen this kind of heat for 15 years. It is very difficult for pregnant women (to cope)," said Satish, a farmer. Umesh, who works with a famers' union - the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha - said, "I have never seen this kind of heat in Mandya district. It is an irrigated area, but this kind of terrible drought and heat....Old people cannot sit inside their homes. Children are also forced to come outside.  We can't even sleep at night."

There are around 1500 people in this village which is close to the Shimsha river and grows rice and sugarcane that use up a lot of water.

Keelghatta Nanjundaiah said, "There are about 18 borewells in the village but they are not yielding water the way they used to." The villagers have had to get drinking water from other villages. The Shimsha river lies just about 200 metres away from the village.  But it has nearly dried up. And, there is no water in the canals.

"Not even enough for a bird to drink...We are not getting even a little irrigation water. In my grandfather's time, they used to get two harvests in a year of paddy and we used to get water from the Shimsha river. But, now even one crop will be difficult," he added.

In this time of intense summer, Kheelghatta is a village like thousands others across the country dealing with drought. In the state alone, 137 taluks or blocks have been declared drought hit.

Across the country, more than a third of the districts are affected.


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