02 December, 2020

At God's Mercy

Like vultures circling the skies scavenging for the dead, the first portents of famine are visible in this arid land. Death is in the air as the drought conditions in the districts of Kalahandi, Nawapada and Bolangir intensify. Hunger has already cla

At God's Mercy

THE most vulnerable die first, when starvation sets in. Women, children, the aged and the ailing. And that has started happening. The rivers are drying up, the crop is scorched, stray cattle graze in the unharvested fields and the inadequate forest cover that exists in the districts of Kalahandi, Nawapada and Bolangir in western Orissa is vanishing rapidly as a beleaguered people fell trees to sell wood with a ferocity born out of desperation.

But the surest sign of the impending catastrophe is the migration. Undertaken by the residents of these areas in thousands. The sky too has taken on an ominous hue—stark blue—which only confirms that the prospect of any unseasonal rainfall (over the next seven months) is as remote as ever. The administration, despite strenuous claims to the contrary and the Prime Minister’s visit, is yet to get its act together. And the region is, once again, a disaster waiting to happen.

For an area that depends almost completely on rainfall for the success of its two annual crops—rice, which is...



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