CHENNAI: Several ominous signs indicate that large parts of the southern states, particularly northern Karnataka, all of Telangana, and several districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, are in the grip of a fright with no name. In some places it’s called a drought, in some parts a water crisis and in some a heat wave. Taken together with the failed monsoon of last year, it’s producing massive outcomes: heat wave deaths by the dozen in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, mass migration in Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and farmer suicides in Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The rushing of water by train to Latur and the banishment of the Indian Premier League from Maharashtra because it didn’t look nice amidst the drought there have thrown focus on a disparate dread. The signs of it are everywhere in the south. At last count, 85 people have died due to heat-related complications in Telangana and 60 more in Andhra Pradesh. Fearing a reprise of last year, when more than 700 people died in the May-June period in the two states, the High Court of Hyderabad last week mandated the State governments to take mitigating measures on a war footing. Civil administrations are in a tizzy, imposing mid-day curfews for workers out in the open, rushing five lakh ORS sachets to each district, leasing private borewells and water tankers to villages, and ordering ministers not to take vacations but visit dry lake beds. Reports of mass migration have come from the districts of Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Bidar, Raichur, Vijayapura and Bagalkot in Karnataka, Kurnool, Kadapa, Chittoor and Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and Mahbubnagar and Nalgonda in Telangana. Ironically, the IPL may have been kicked out of Maharashtra, but continues to be staged in crisis-torn Hyderabad.