What is the worst-hit city in the drought-hit Tamil Nadu?

By Sunil Chaturvedi | 09 July, 2019 14:33 ISTWhat the hell is going on in Tamil Nadu, where the drought has left farmers’ fields in tatters and the water table has plummeted to a historic low?

It is not a place where you would expect to find a well-drilled crop of corn, a thriving business in rice cultivation and the thriving employment in mining.

But that is precisely what is happening in the north of the state, where drought has gripped the country. 

The state has recorded its worst drought in the country since 2003, when over 90 per cent of the country was in drought. 

At least 13 of the worst affected areas are in Tamilnadu, home to nearly 40 per cent the country’s agricultural production.

In the last year alone, at least 1.7 million hectares of land has been lost in the state.

Farmers in the northern part of the State have had to borrow funds to buy water from the Centre, as they can’t obtain it at the rate they have been accustomed to.

They have also faced a shortage of drinking water as their wells are not being tapped.

While farmers in other parts of the region have been forced to pay to get water from neighbouring states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, in the south, Tamil Nadu is not far behind.

The state has lost its top two cities, Chennai and Kannur, to drought in recent months.

There is also a shortage in fertiliser for crops like cotton, sugarcane and wheat.

Even in areas like Kannada Nadu, a state which is famous for its Tamil culture, farmers have been struggling to find water in some of the best areas of their fields.

In this drought-ravaged state, which has been hit hard by the drought in 2015-16, farmers are struggling to earn enough to feed their families and pay their bills.

In the past year alone nearly 100,000 hectares of their land has lost a third of its area. 

A lot of this land is in marginal places like Andhra Nadu, Telangam and Kerala.

 Andhra Pradesh’s agricultural productivity in the past few years has been the best among the states.

According to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), in 2016-17, the state’s yield per hectare was 3.9 times higher than in 2017-18.

In 2017-2018, the yield per unit of land in Andhra and Telangan states had fallen to 5.7 and 3.5 times, respectively.

In other words, Andhra farmers are now facing a major problem, not just in terms of land loss, but in the cost of fertiliser to fertilise their fields, as well as the cost to transport and ship water to the areas where it is needed. 

So far, it is not clear whether the drought will impact Tamil Nadu farmers in the long run, but the farmers are being forced to rely on loans and loans they do not have, especially the cost involved in transporting water. 

While the state government has been issuing loans of Rs 1,200 per acre per annum for five years now, farmers who were previously getting the loan for less than Rs 2,000 per acre are now being asked to pay more.

“I have borrowed Rs 1.2 lakh per acre to buy my land, but it has been Rs 1 lakh a month.

I am now in debt,” said an agricultural worker from Kannadurai district in Andamans state.

He said that his loans have increased from Rs 700 to Rs 1 crore. 

“I am getting more loans every month,” he said.