tamil nadu: A year after Tamil Nadu witnessed its worst drought in 140 years, large stretches of farmlands have turned barren in Nagapattinam district, the tail end of Tamil Nadu's delta region.
Seventy-year-old Dandayudhapani's five acre field is now bone dry and cracked. The kuruvai crop season would start in a few weeks, but with the centre yet to constitute the Cauvery Management Board to release Tamil Nadu's share of water despite the Supreme Court order, he doesn't know what to do. However, he is getting his field ready.
With the centre telling the Supreme Court that the Prime Minister is busy with the Karnataka polls as the reason for not constituting the Cauvery Management Board, Dandayudhapani said, "If they disregard the rule of law then we won't get water, and all the farmers will die. Even grocery stores aren't giving us necessary items on credit."
Not far away, the Thangasamis are worried that their bank would take away their land and home anytime. The elderly couple have been unable to repay their Rs 50,000 crop loan. They desperately need Rs 4,000 to fix a pump, but nobody is ready to give them any money.
"How will you repay," they were asked.
The drought and Karnataka's refusal to part with Tamil Nadu's share of Cauvery water last year has crippled the rural economy.
S Parimalam has a loan of Rs 70,000 to repay. He said, "Sheep and cows die without water. There is no agriculture. What do we do? Let them put us in jail. At least we would get food there."
M Nataraj has lost his cattle due to severe scarcity of water and grazing grounds. "I've lost 30 sheep. There's no water in the village," he said.
About 106 farmers reportedly committed suicide over the last year. The BJP at the centre is delaying the formation of the board allegedly to win elections in Karnataka which is opposed to giving up its control over Cauvery dams. The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, too, has been accused of not doing enough.
Gokula Indira, AIADMK spokesperson said, "No compromise on out rights. We will continue fighting for Cauvery."