Ryots in T1 tigress territory suffer a double whammy

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Oct 2018 11:05:21

Withered cotton crop in a field near Loni village. (R) A shepherd returning to his village Waradh at around 4 pm.   (Pics by Ramesh Marulkar)

By Ramesh Marulkar,

WITHERED cotton fields and damaged crops tell a story of double whammy for the farmers of 22 villages in Pandharkawda and Ralegaon tehsils in Yavatmal as daily life revolves around the search of T1 tigress and her terror.
According to estimates, agriculture production has suffered 60 to 70 per cent because of the tigress’ presence in the region. Also bearing the brunt are the farm labourers in absence of sufficient agricultural activities.

Most in the region are marginal farmers cultivating cotton, soyabean, tur and other crops to earn their livelihood. Since the tigress created havoc by killing as many as 13 persons, they are scared to take due care of their fields, especially providing water to the crops. They start at 10 am to reach the fields. Forest Department has cautioned them to return from their farms by 4 pm.

As if this was not enough, Maharashtra Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) supplies power to them only during night time to water their crops through pumps. This has affected the crops to a large extent. Out of compulsion to save the standing crop, farmers have to go to the fields in groups with torches, sticks and axes. To add to their miseries herbivores have also caused damage to other crops.

During a visit to Vedshi and other villages, Ankush Maneshwar, Sarpanch, Vedshi, said MSEDCL resorted to load-shedding from 7 am to 1.30 pm. He demanded that Maharashtra Electricity Distribution Company Limited should supply electricity during day time so that cultivators can provide water to their crops. If this is done, they would also not run the risk of going to farms during night. Pravin Kokate, Chairman of Ralegaon Panchayat Samiti, estimated that the agriculture production suffered by 60 to 70 per cent because of the tigress.

The visit revealed that cotton crops have withered due to insufficient rains and lack of other precautions. “The frightened cultivators do not dare to go to their fields to harvest cotton, except a few needy ones,” Kokate said. Once upon a time the farmers used to harvest cotton and carry the commodity by bullock-carts, such was the output. Presently, farmers are carrying just two cloth bags full of cotton on bikes.

Sadashiv Ganpat Nehare, a shepherd from Waradh village, said that he had to return home at 4 pm along with the cattle heads because of the fear of the tigress. He demanded that the Forest Department should provide immediate relief to villagers by either capturing for eliminating the tigress.


MSEDCL yet to consider farmers’ demand

Though Forest Department is expecting cooperation from other departments in the situation of crisis, MSEDCL is delaying to fulfill the demand of the affected villagers to supply electricity during day time.

At present, it is supplying power during night time to enable farmers provide water to their crops. Moreover, it has also resorted to load-shedding till noon.

Forest officials have urged the authorities concerned to help them but even after passing of ten days, MSEDCL has done nothing in the interest of suffering cultivators.