Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
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The State Vs The People

The people of the desert know of water harvesting techniques but my experience says that it is the state that needs to learn them.

The grace of Indra has been checked by Pawan. And we are heading for yet another drought. I wrote too soon, it seems. The rains had been coming down adequately. However, since then there has been a continuous breeze all across the area, sometimes even reaching high wind speeds. Coming from the plains of Baluchistan and Sindh, these winds have taken the rain clouds away from the desert and dried the crops. And the winds have also affected the roots of the grasses; such have been the speeds. Even the world-famous and hardy sevan grass has been unable to withstand the strain of the winds. And then the cooling effect of this continuous breeze has also prevented a low pressure from developing over the area. What was being tagged as an ‘eight-anna season which could become a sixteen-anna one with just one more rain’ is now being declared by the people as yet another drought. And once again the major worry remains that of the cattle.

Cattle-rearing is the major activity in Barmer and their population far outstrips that of humans. I once did read somewhere that Barmer has the highest per capita consumption of milk in India. I forgot to tag the source of that figure, for it would have been useful to check with the ground realities. Cattle-rearing basically needs three things in a non-polluted environment - water, grass and space to graze. Other than the pollution part, all three have been in increasingly short supply here in Barmer over the years. As agricultural farms develop, they take away natural grazing lands. Rains in short supply don’t allow the grasses to grow and water to collect in reservoirs. Fearing just this sort of season, I had gotten active before the summer to remake an old nadi in my village.

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