The inefficient & insensitive Agricultural department in our area will surely drive some farmers in our village to suicide. If any farmer from Velhe taluka commits suicide its the Agricultural department & their staff (who also pose as land agents) who should be held responsible for the deaths.
Anyone who is into farming in the western part of this country will know the first 6 months of 2016 is going to be a very, very difficult period. There will be not a drop of water….. it’s going to be a bloody drought.
I’ve been following up with the officials of the Agricultural department & urging them to be sensitive to this issue, become farmer friendly (& not anti-farmer) & do the temporary check dams on the river. On the other hand i’ve been urging the villagers to get together & volunteer & to do these things on our own. Because making a check dam isn’t any rocket science even dumb asses like me can do it. It’s just that we need physically strong people to come together for a couple of days, so that we can fill up the sacks with material from the river side & check the flow of water. If every 500mtrs had a check dam along our tiny river everything will be so different & will be thriving with life.
We have so many such initiatives from farmers who have come together in different villages in Maharashtra and have successfully done Temporary Check dams, Permanent check dams, Swales & taking their winter crops without any ado. Sonapur, Hivre bazar are just a couple of examples which are showing us the way.
In our village why doesn’t it happen ? We get big news like 60 villages in Velhe Taluka has been declared eco-sensitive. 337 villages in Pune district have been declared eco-sensitive. Our Gram-Panchayat Kellud is also declared eco-sensitive. There was a Gram sabha (village meeting) held on this issue a few weeks back which people in the village wanted me to attend & give inputs on what does it mean to be declared as an eco-sensitive zone etc.
For creating a thriving eco-sensitive zone apart from protecting the forests, we have to protect our water bodies, that really is the key. Unifying the whole area on this issue is going to be a huge ask.
I had repeated meetings with the concerned Agricultural Officer (AO) to remind him of the impending drought situation & to change his avatar from a ubiquitous land agent to a concerned Agricultural Officer.
Finally one day he called me:
AO: i am dropping 300 empty cement bags on your farm
me: so….. what i am i supposed to do ?
AO: You, start the work & i will be bringing all my senior officers to your farm.
me: Why don’t you come to the village & we can have a meeting with all the villagers & see if they are willing to do shramadhan (voluntary labour) for a day or two.
AO: No, you call the people yourself & start the work & i need to show to my higher officials that we’ve initiated this program in these villages.
Me: will the Agriculture department reimburse the wages to me
AO: We, will see, you just start the work
We have done a Check dam on our own initiative, the AO has not even bothered to call me and ask for the payment muster & not even a mention of what he will be able to reimburse. I am sure he would be secretly presenting a muster & pocketing all the monies himself & having a good laugh at my expense. I am sure he will be bringing his senior officials & showing this check dam which we made ourselves as something which he did, there will photographs taken & reports written on how the potential drought situation in Kellud Gram Panchayat was foreseen & how the AO has prevented it. How people from a 5 km radius of our village are coming for water to this river etc, etc.
Just see the level of water a few days back when we started the work
After we finished the work in a couple of days just see the “water bank” we’ve created. We’ve made sure that in our village there is going to enough water for every living organism till June 2016.
The presence of water makes our tiny village so vibrant & full of life
If just 10 people work for a couple of days makes so difference, i hate to repeat myself, however i feel this intervention we’ve done makes a difference between living & dying in our village.
15 years back one of my mentors P. Sainath had written Everyone loves a good drought…..
Now i am seeing the same story unfolding in front of my own eyes.
Peace & love