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Dushkal: Drought in Marathwada, India

Marathwada, India-March 21, 2016. The drought of 1972 is a reference point to calculate the age of Vyjayanta Ithape, 70, who gave birth to a son and had also lost her husband that year. Chincholi in Beed, Maharashtra, where she lives alone, has been relying on water tankers for the past three years, even during the monsoon. “This one is unlike any other drought in the past, we have grain to eat but no water to drink.”


Dushkal: Drought in Marathwada, India, photo essay by Harsha Vadlamani


Over 330 million, or a quarter of the country, have been affected by a drought in the summer of 2016, the Indian government said. Among the worst hit is Marathwada, a region spread across 25,000 sq. miles in west-central India, about 350 km from the financial capital of Mumbai.

In 2015, the region received a deficit rainfall of 51% on average, with some parts receiving as little as 35% of what is considered normal rainfall. This being the third monsoon to fail in a row has had a severe impact on this predominantly agrarian region. As yields suffered and debts accumulated, many farmers were pushed to the brink and some unfortunately beyond. Over 1100 farmer suicides have been reported from the region in 2015 and 216 more took this extreme step in the first 71 days of 2016.

In the cities of Latur and Parbhani, authorities have imposed Section 144, which debars gathering of more than five people, at water tankers to prevent scuffles. Five trains have been deployed to carry drinking water to Latur, the second largest city in the region, from a source 300km away.
March-May 2016.

(by Harsha Vadlamani)


Marathwada, India- April 30, 2016. A blackbuck sprints across the road near Belewadi Phata in Beed, Maharashtra. Farmers say the drying up of watering holes in the jungles has led to an increase in sightings of wild animals on their farms.

Marathwada, India-March 23, 2016. Dead trees dot the hills near Dharur in Beed, Maharashtra.

Marathwada, India-March 27, 2016. A family gets a borewell dug at the height of the water crisis at Nandgaon Ves in Latur city, Maharashtra.

Marathwada, India- May 03, 2016. Jaldoot Express, a train bringing in water from a distance of 300km, being emptied at the railway station in Latur city, Maharashtra.

Marathwada, India-May 01, 2016. A four-member band plays at a wedding in Manjrath in Beed, Maharashtra. “If not for the drought, the wedding would have been a much more lavish affair,” said a relative attending the wedding.

Marathwada, India- March 25, 2016. Women draw water from a well, which has long since gone dry but replenished once a day with water from tankers, at Karigaon in Beed, Maharshtra.

Marathwada, India-May 04, 2016. A woman uses a tumbler to fill her pot from a small puddle on the bed of a well in Atola in Latur, Maharashtra. The previous day, Kevalbai Kamble, 45, stood in a line at the village’s community tap for two hours and collapsed before she could collect her two pots of water. She was declared ‘brought dead’ at the Government Hospital in Latur. Her 80-year-old mother who is half-blind has to live alone now and nobody knows how she will get her water.

Marathwada, India-March 23, 2016. Migrant workers returning from a sugar mill in neighbouring Karnataka, transfer to smaller vehicles at Dharur in Beed, Maharahstra, where they also shop for gifts and essential items before continuing onwards to their respective villages.

Marathwada, India-March 21, 2016. A cattle fodder camp at Siddewadi in Beed, Maharashtra. The state government has opened 327 such camps in the three heavily-affected districts of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad, providing fodder and water to over 300,000 cattle.

Marathwada, India-March 22, 2016. Deubai Disle, 60, winnows the family’s harvest of bajra (pearl millet) at Dislewadi in Beed, Maharashtra. She said the yield from the 12-acre farm was only 1000 kg against the normal yield of 5000 kg.

Marathwada, India-May 25, 2016. A drought migrant family from Nanded spends a summer evening at a playground just outside their camp in Ghatkopar, Mumbai.

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