As Marathwada region faces severe drought this year, Karjat Taluka in Western Maharashtra is suffering from scarcity of water and fodder alike. Since March, 74 temporary cattle shelters have come up in this Taluka that house 46,321 cattle.
Karjat shares its boundaries with Pune, Ahmadnagar and Solapur districts. MiD DAY visited a temporary cattle shelter in Kangudwadi that’s been housing 325 cattle since three months. Now, farmers here are desperately waiting for the monsoons because a delay in rains will spell doom for the area. Interestingly, the region is famous for sugarcane, the most water consuming crop.
“Since last June, our village is reeling from scarcity of water and fodder. The number of cattle in the shelter has touched 325, raising our daily fodder requirement to five tonnes,” said Babasaheb Kangude, Sarpanch of Kangudewadi, who is running the cattle shelter under the name of Sulaxmi Rural Co-operative Society.
Narayan Kale (68), who looks after his two cows and a buffalo in the cattle shelter, claims that this year’s drought is the worst he has seen in his life. “I have faced the worst-ever drought in 1952. But till now, drought meant scarcity of food, not water. But for the first time, I am finding that all the wells in my village have run dry and there is severe shortage of fodder, without which it is impossible for my cattle to survive,” said Kale.
The Tehsildar of Karjat, Jaysingh Bahisade, said, “Right now, the government is spending Rs 75 on one animal. That means, in Karjat alone we are spending Rs 34,75,000 daily to run 74 temporary cattle shelters.” Bahisade keeps daily records of fodder supply.
Even Bhima river can’t come to the rescue
Just 15 kilometres away from Kangudwadi, Daund region is irrigated as it is on the banks of river Bhima that passes through both Pune and Ahmadnagar districts.
When asked why water from the river can’t be brought to villages like Kangudwadi, Tehsildar of Karjat, Jaysingh Bahisade, said, “The water level of Bhima has already gone down. Even if we bring water, the question of availability of fodder will not solve.”
“Even if this year, monsoon starts on time, we will have to wait for at least 15 days for enough green grass required for cattle to grow before we shut the ongoing cattle shelter in the taluka,” he said. “The sugarcane farmers of Bhima river belt are getting fodder demands from Daund, Karmala, Patoda and Beed. As the demand-supply ratio is getting worse, we have concerns about the fodder situation if rain is delayed this year too,” he said.