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.