National consultation on drought

Activists call for measures to tackle agrarian crisis

New Delhi: As testimonies of farmers’ distress from drought-hit regions of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telengana and Rajasthan were unfolded in the national Capital on Sunday, experts and activists during a national consultation expressed concern over the way the recent prevailing crisis has been handled while calling for a concrete drought-relief policy and political will to tackle such agrarian crisis.

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 1

As testimonies of farmers’ distress from drought-hit regions of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telengana and Rajasthan were unfolded in the national Capital on Sunday, experts and activists during a national consultation expressed concern over the way the recent prevailing crisis has been handled while calling for a concrete drought-relief policy and political will to tackle such agrarian crisis.

To carry and implement the results of the consultation to the worst drought affected areas of the country, Jai Kisan Andolon of Swaraj Abhiyan and farmers organisations and unions led by Yogendra Yadav have decided to undertake a 10-day padyatra in Marathwada and Bundelkhand from May 21.

In the coming days, the group plans to form Relief Committees in all tehsils/districts so that local initiative and participation increases in drought management and mitigation. In this, students and youth will be mobilised to visit and help people of drought affected villages.

The consultation highlighted that 54 crore farmers and rural people constituting two-fifth of the population of the country living in 13 states are in the grip of drought; many for consecutive years. People are battling for drinking water. Food is frugal and subsistence. Thirsty and hungry domestic cattle have been released and are dying nomadic deaths. Farms are fallow. Life and Livelihood has come to a standstill.

Over the last one year, Swaraj Abhiyan-led farmers movement has been highlighting the deplorable conditions of affected people in drought-hit regions and even communicated to governments calling for urgent measures. But, the response from the governments and the Centre has been far than desirable, noted activists.

Among various ssession held, national president of Swaraj Abhiyan and leading sociologist Prof Anand Kumar chaired session titled “Perspectives on Drought” while there were vocal voices and activists who narrated the plight of farmers and cattle in affected regions.

The consultation’s concluded with environmental activist Sunita Narain, farming, food and trade policy expert Devinder Sharma and national convener of Jai Kisan Andolon Yogendra Yadav discussing steps that have to be taken at all levels for mitigating the impact of drought.

Innovations and action plans such as traditional and localised water conservation, change of agricultural pattern and switching over to climate resilient traditional cereal, pulse, oilseed, vegetable and horticultural crops were some of the suggestions.

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