Dushkaal: Drought and Agrarian Crisis in Marathwada, India.

Harsha Vadlamani



Over 330 million, or a quarter of the country, have been affected by a drought in the summer of 2016, the Indian government said. Among the worst hit is Marathwada, a region spread across 25,000 sq. miles in west-central India, about 350 km from the financial capital of Mumbai.

In 2015, the region received a deficit rainfall of 51% on average, with some parts receiving as little as 35% of what is considered normal rainfall. This being the third monsoon to fail in a row has had a severe impact on this predominantly agrarian region. As yields suffered and debts accumulated, many farmers were pushed to the brink and some unfortunately beyond. Over 1100 farmer suicides have been reported from the region in 2015 and 216 more took this extreme step in the first 71 days of 2016.

In the cities of Latur and Parbhani, authorities have imposed Section 144, which debars gathering of more than five people, at water tankers to prevent scuffles. Five trains have been deployed to carry drinking water to Latur, the second largest city in the region, from a source 300km away.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • Dead trees dot the hills near Dharur in Beed, Maharashtra, India. In 2015, the region known as Marathwada in the western Indian state of Maharashtra received only 49% of what is considered normal rainfall. March 23, 2016.

  • The drought of 1972 is a reference point to calculate the age of Vyjayanta Ithape, 70, who gave birth to a son and had also lost her husband that year. Chincholi in Beed, Maharashtra, India where she lives alone, has been relying on water tankers for the past three years, even during the monsoon."This one is unlike any other drought in the past, we have grain to eat but no water to drink." March 21, 2016.

  • A blackbuck sprints across the road near Belewadi Phata in Beed, Maharashtra, India. Farmers say the drying up of watering holes in the jungles has led to an increase in sightings of wild animals on their farms. April 30, 2016.

  • A man carries a water drum to the tanker in Latur city, Maharashtra. March 27, 2016.

  • A family gets a borewell dug at the height of the water crisis at Nandgaon Ves in Latur city, Maharashtra, India. March 27, 2016.

  • Jaldoot Express, an oil tanker repurposed to transport water from a water source 300km away,being emptied at the railway station in Latur city, Maharashtra, India. May 03, 2016.

  • A four-member band plays at a wedding in Manjrath in Beed, Maharashtra, India. "If not for the drought, the wedding would have been a much more lavish affair," said a relative attending the wedding. May 01, 2016.

  • Women draw water from a well, which has long since gone dry but replenished once a day with water from tankers, at Karigaon in Beed, Maharshtra, India. March 25, 2016

  • A woman uses a tumbler to fill her pot from a small puddle on the bed of a well in Atola in Latur, Maharashtra, India. The previous day, Kevalbai Kamble, 45, stood in a line at the village's community tap for two hours and collapsed before she could collect her two pots of water. She was declared 'brought dead' at the Government Hospital in Latur. May 04, 2016.

  • Migrant workers returning from a sugar mill in neighbouring Karnataka, transfer to smaller vehicles at Dharur in Beed, Maharahstra, where they also shop for gifts and essential items before continuing onwards to their respective villages. March 23, 2016.

  • A cattle fodder camp at Siddewadi in Beed, Maharashtra, India. The state government has opened 327 such camps in the three heavily-affected districts of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad, providing fodder and water to over 300,000 cattle. March 21, 2016.

  • Deubai Disle, 60, winnows the family's harvest of bajra (pearl millet) at Dislewadi in Beed, Maharashtra. She said the yield from the 12-acre farm was only 1000 kg against the normal yield of 5000 kg. March 22, 2016.

  • Baliram Jadhav, 40, waits on the operating table for anaesthesia to be administered before a surgery to remove the stones in his kidney at a private hospital in Latur city, Maharashtra. Jadhav, a farmer, says water from a bore well, which he’s been consuming for two years after the well dried up, is responsible for the stones. He delayed the surgery for two years as he didn’t have the money, but went in for the surgery as the pain grew worse with money borrowed from relatives and friends. May 03, 2016.

  • A drought migrant family from Nanded spends a summer evening at a playground just outside their camp in Ghatkopar, Mumbai. May 25, 2016.