The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Maharashtra Chief Secretary to take appropriate steps to solve the acute drinking water problem in Baramati region of Maharashtra.
The apex human rights panel passed this direction on a petition moved by Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, who highlighted the tragic condition of people suffering from severe drinking water shortage in the region.
In a region where farmers either work in the fields or breed cows, milk production is the indicator of the impact of the drought.
Baramati is divided 40:60 between the green zone of agriculture and the dry zone where water is always short and where dairy farming is the primary source of livelihood, Radhakanta told NHRC.
Sudakshana Jagtap of Jagtapwadi village has sold two of her seven cows; Ashok Sopanrao Pansare of Pansarewadi has sold off four of his 12 cows.
“For one lactating cow, I need about 150 to 200 litres of water per day,” says Pansare. “Of the eight I have now, three are lactating. My average daily production has gone down from 100 litres to 35 litres,” he said.
The association of milk suppliers supplies part of the milk it procures to dairies and sells the rest under the brand name Nandan. It has struggled to supply water for cattle, usually done once every four or five days, but hopes to make up by setting up fodder depots in villages.
Radhakanta requested the NHRC to direct the State Government to arrange drinking water for the people and the cows to ensure the livelihood of milk producers. On another petition of Tripathy regarding water shortage in Solapur region of the State, NHRC has asked the district magistrate to take appropriate action to solve the drinking water crisis that forces the villagers to mortgage their properties.
Vasant Lengave, former sarpanch of Andhalgaon village, Solapur, has mortgaged two acres of his land for ` 2 lakh, following many others of his extended family over the years.
Andhalgaon, a village of 4,000 in Solapur, is traditionally one of the worst affected during drought.
The mortgage of ` 2 lakh that Lengave settled for was against an estimated sale price of ` 5 to 6 lakh.
This is a choice villagers are forced to make. Sahadev Lenghve of the gram panchayat says almost every family has mortgaged some of its land.
The administration has declared 72 of Mangalvedha’s 81 villages and all 103 of Sangola drought-affected. However, nothing substantial has been done to ensure drinking water for the residents of this area.