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Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
Telangana

The Hungry Ride

Busloads are exiting their villages for the city

The Hungry Ride
K.R. Vinayan
The Hungry Ride
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

About 15 km from Narayanpet town in Mahabubnagar district, you encounter Unduchelemithanda. Surrounded by empty fields, this village of 40-odd farming households is almost entirely deserted. Nearly every adult has migrated to Mumbai or Pune to work as a construction labourer. In the few hamlets where doors are open, ageing village folk tend to grandchildren left behind in their care. Among them is 62-year-old Nandu Naik, who is feeding his gra­nddaughter when we meet him. His son and daughter-in-law have left for Khar­gar area in Mumbai to work as labourers. “Owing to the drought last year,” he says, “they had to leave in November itself for work. Generally, they wait till March.”

This is one of the villages where concrete houses had replaced thatched roofs in the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s rule as CM. But agricultural distress runs through the soil like a raging fever. Each family that owns 1-3 acres finds it impossible to cultivate anything given the lack of irrigation and scanty rainfall. Inept implementation of NREGA, rising prices of essential commodities and drought magnify rural distress, says farmers’ consortium leader Prabhakar Reddy. “NREGA focuses on land levelling and road development, not increa­sing food production,” he says. “The very economics of our agriculture is anti-farmer. Besides, rice might be Re 1 per kg but people spend a fortune on other food. Hence, they prefer to migrate to places where there is a cash flow.”

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