One of the worst droughts to have hit the country in decades, has wrecked crops, killed livestock and rendered thousands of farmers without a livelihood. As a result farmers from drought-hit regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha, Maharashtra are being driven to cities in hordes for search of work.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now come up with a scheme to offer them jobs. However, this farmers have to learn new skills and work on cleaning sewage pipes and nullahs in Mumbai.
A Mid-Day report explains that the BMC has entrusted the job of hiring labour for cleaning minor nullahs in the city to ward officers. And since they do not have enough labourers at their disposal, they have outsourced the work to NGOs. Thus, the farmers and their families who have approached NGOs for help, are getting these jobs.
Many farmers, who travel with their wives and children, are also taking them along for these jobs.
"We can’t leave the children behind. We make them sit in shade near our work site. They play there. You just have to give them enough to eat," a farmer's wife told Mid-Day.
Earlier this month, National Award-winning actor Nana Patekar had urged the people in the cities to not treat migrant farmers as beggars.
"A massive migration is taking place to cities. And I want to tell everyone: if someone knocks at your car window, don't treat them like beggars. They are farmers.They are helpless. They need food, water and access to toilets. Let's take responsibility for one person each. It's not hard," he had said.
"The next two months are going to be tough for the farmers in Maharashtra. And I think it is our failure, our government's failure that we haven't been able to harvest or store the rainwater properly. It's not a matter of one or two years. We've been failing our farmers since the last sixty-eight years," he told NDTV.
2015 saw the highest number of farmer suicides in Maharashtra since 2001. Around 2,590 farmers ended their lives between January to October 2015, reported The Hindu.
As of March 1 this year, as many as 57 farmers have already committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2016 due to agrarian reasons.
But hopefully, according to the India Meteorology Department, Maharashtra is set to see above-average rainfall this year.
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