Tiruvarur: In Tamil Nadu's Tiruvarur district, vast stretches of the once fertile Cauvery delta have turned into barren fields. 32-year-old Arogya Mary has given up on agriculture as a livelihood. Her 36-year-old husband died on the same field less than six months ago after a heart attack. Ms Mary says her husband was heartbroken that there was no water to sow any crop.
"I used to help my husband in the field but now I don't want to get back to agriculture. There is no water. My children are studying and not interested in farming," she says.
Farmers in the Cauvery belt at one time used to even get three harvests in a year but now they have no water to even sow. Only exceptions being farmers who can afford bore wells.
Less than 20 kilometres away from Arogya Mary, 50-year-old Raja Lakshmi is vigorously trying to pump out some drinking water. But the futility of her efforts cannot hold back her tears. "I have agricultural loan to pay off. There is no water. There is no agriculture. There is no drinking water," she says, while wiping her tears off.
Ironically, Tiruvarur gets its water from the Cauvery river but two successive monsoon failures has left even the river bed dry. Government officials say what's worse, Tamil Nadu should have received 189.5 TMC of Cauvery water from Karnataka till April, according to the Cauvery tribunal, but instead has received less than half of that, only 67.85 TMC.
"It's the worst drought in 140 years. For even getting water from borewells, you have to dig at least 500 feet deep. There is no water for drinking. What are farmers supposed to do?" asks PR Pandian, the President of Tamil Nadu Farmers Association.