Jaisalmer: India is on its way to be declared a drought country with the Met department admitting that the country is suffering a rain deficit of 51 per cent. To add to the woes, it has been predicted that even the second half of the monsoon - between August and September - will witness less than 50 per cent rain. This is all due to the El Nino weather pattern.
India last suffered a drought in 2009 when it had to import sugar, pushing global prices high. Meanwhile, the drought-like situation in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan is forcing several farmers to leave their homes and cattle and migrate to cities.
The cycle of misery for Jiva Kanwar and her five daughters is never-ending. Last year her house in Phulasar village in Jaisalmer was washed away in the floods and this year with the drought, the tankas (small underground tanks) have dried up. The fodder for her cattle is also fast disappearing.
"I have nothing left to feed my cows and daughter. If it doesn't rain I will have to let go of them. There is no man in the house to migrate for work and earn and I'm too old," says Jiva Kanwar.
Farmer Narendra Singh is also waiting for rains. He has a crippling debt and might be forced to migrate to Gujarat and Haryana for work.
"There's been no sowing at all. The cattle will have to go now and then I'll also have to migrate for work. Since there's a debt to repay I don't have a choice. The village will be left with hardly any men if help from the government doesn't come soon," says Narendra Singh, a resident of Phulasar village in Jaisalmer.
From a year of waterlogged fields to a year of hungry cattle and parched land thirsting for water, Jaisalmer and Barmer, known to be drought prone districts of Rajasthan, are caught between the devil and the deep sea - excessive rainfall on one side and complete lack of it on the other.
With 33 per cent rain deficit, Jaisalmer and Barmer are the worst hit districts of Rajasthan. Jodhpur, Nagaur and Bikaner have also been hit hard by the rain deficit.
"Against the average rainfall of 165 mm it has only rained 15 mm. So far the situation is extremely worrying and there are strong chances of a drought. At this rate serious water and fodder scarcity will follow," says Additional District Collector Jaisalmer Ramesh Chandra Jainth.
The state has asked for Central help but for farmers like Narendra and Jiva Kanwar help delayed will be help denied.