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The changing face of Mahabubnagar

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Mahabubnagar: Migration is probably one of the most difficult decisions for a family due to the innumerable problems people have to face working in a new location away from their village or town. Education of children gets affected, the migrant families become outsiders and have to face discrimination at the place of migration. Emotional stress combined with an intensive physical labour work for meager wages affects the health of the family. 

The State government declared that providing irrigation water could reverse the migration trend in the once drought-prone Mahabubnagar district which is known for large-scale migration of labourers. Due to some projects being completed and water being released to irrigate the barren lands of the newly formed Jogulamba district, signs of reverse migration could be seen in the district, particularly in the Nettampadu project ayacut area.

Devabanda is a hamlet located in the remote areas bordering Karnataka and Rayalaseema. Of the 200 households in this village, 70 per cent have been migrating to Karnataka, Hyderabad and other places because their lands had turned barren due to subsequent drought years. 

Hoping for good rains, farmers in the village used to sow cotton, chillies and other rainfed crops every cropping season. As rains used to give the region a miss, farmers had to bear the burden of the costs on the crop which they would have borrowed mostly from private moneylenders. Debts used to mount and the farmers had no option but to migrate and work in construction, farms and other odd works as labourers in neighbouring states; to repay their debts. 

Venkatramulu (63), a resident of Devabanda, has been migrating for the past couple of decades along with his family, though he owns five acres of land in his village. Every year he migrates to Gangavati in Karnataka along with four members of his family to work as farm labourers. The family has to go once for sowing and once for harvesting. “What option did we have? Due to losses in agriculture, we had to migrate. The landlord pays us Rs 2 lakh for our work which is better than dying with mounting debts here,” he told Telangana Today.

Palamuru labourers stay put at home

After Krishna water was released in 2016 kharif season, he stayed in his village without migrating for the first time. December is the time when people from the village migrate annually. This year, till date, only six families migrated from the village.

By lifting Krishna water from Jurala project, irrigation water is being routed from Gudendoddi in Daruru mandal from where the water is filed in Ryalampadu reservoir. From there, through distributaries, water reaches Mucchonipally reservoir in Gattu mandal, Thatikunta reservoir in Maldakal mandal and Nagardoddi mandal in Mandakal mandal. 

As of now, through the Nettempadu project, farmers in Daruru, Gattu, Maldakal, Gadwal and Ieeja mandals get irrigation water for tens of thousands of acres. Farmers could be seen busy sowing for the current Yasangi season due to availability of plenty of water this year as well. Water flowing in canals by the side of farm lands is a common sight in Ieeja and Maldakal mandals.

Earlier, the main crops here were just cotton, groundnut and chillies. One would be astonished at the biodiversity thriving in the villages of Ieeja and Gattu mandals after their lands are irrigated. Farmers are cultivating paddy, sorghum, sesame, groundnuts, pulses, vegetables, leafy vegetables, groundnuts, chillies, and even tobacco. 

Lakshmi Devi (60), a resident of Tappalamorsu village in Gattu mandal, was busy in her farm land separating damaged chillies from the good ones. When asked why she was working alone, she said that after water started flowing in canals, she was unable to find farm labourers to help her because everybody was busy in their farms, which clearly speaks volumes of the change in the farm scenario in what was once a parched land. 

Lakshmi Devi says that she hasn’t been using water from the canals because the borewell in her farm lands has been pumping out enough water to irrigate her 3.5 acres of land like never before. Many farmers are cultivating a mix of crops without cultivating a single crop. 

“Last year water was released only once, but this year, it has been released three times. There was a time when the lands here were lying barren due to which people used to migrate to other areas. I think now people don’t have a reason to migrate because there is enough water and plenty of work to do here itself,” said Uggundu (40), a resident of Ieeja.

What started as a trickle of reverse migration in Mahabubnagar district is expected to change the entire trend in the coming months, once the irrigation projects are completed.  

 

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