Chhatarpur, May 30 (IANS) The drought-affected Bundelkhand region is well on its way to becoming another Rajasthan desert if drought and silting of arable land is not arrested soon, 'Waterman' Rajendra Singh has said.
"Large parts of Rajasthan are desert because of sand. But Bundelkhand region is becoming a desert because of its circumstances. The farmland here is fast getting silted up, which means earth is losing its capacity to grow crops," Rajendra Singh told IANS here.
The much honoured activist was in this district of Madhya Pradesh as a participant in the 11-day 'Jal-Hal Padyatra' ('walk for water and farming') undertaken by four social organisations -- Swaraj Abhiyan, Ekta Parishad, National Alliance of Peoples' Movements (NAPM) and Jal Biradari.
The campaigners have been walking through Marathwada in Maharashtra and Bundelkhand region spread across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to highlight the drought in these regions and to create awareness about the May 13 order of the Supreme Court to provide wide-ranging relief in the affected states.
Rajendra Singh said three villages of Tikamgarh and Chhatarpur districts that he visited during the Padyatra present a scary picture -- there is no food, fodder and water for humans and animals.
"Rivers are turning into stretches of rocky terrain, lakes have no water either, and the young are fleeing the region in search of work," he said.
He said the drought this time has not only affected the poor and the voiceless animals, but also the better off, making for widespread despondency.
"But the Madhya Pradesh government has been indifferent to the drought and famine that now affects Bundelkhand. There is neither any supply of water through tankers, nor supply of food through the ration shops."
Rajendra Singh said it is true that Bundelkhand has received poor rainfall since 2007, accounting a lot for the bleak situation now, but ascribing everything to nature would be to turn a blind eye to the huge amount of work that has not been done.
"Rain has indeed fallen in the last three years, but rainwater has not been retained."
It is still not too late to save Bundelkhand from falling into an abyss, he said.
"The monsoon season is upon us. Every drop of rain that falls needs to be retained. There should be an effort to revive rivers, to deepen the lakes, and to dig new lakes," Rajendra Singh said.
"If we manage to get going with these efforts before the rains start, we may well have prevented the drought next year. If not, then only gods will know what is going to happen."
The 'Jal-Hal Padyatra' started from Latur in Maharashtra on May 21 and will conclude at Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.