THE drought-like situation in Charkha village,around 7 km north of Babra town in Amreli district,has put farmers and wild animals in contention over water. While the farmers are dying hard to use scarce water to cultivate crops in tiny areas to compensate for crop failure in monsoon,blue bulls running around in search of water and fodder are damaging this crop.
Large herds of blue bulls are found wandering in the periphery of the village. Due to scanty rains last monsoon,lakes and ponds in the villages have gone dry and water in wells have dipped. The village has tracts of social forestry area,the habitat of the wild animals.
During normal years,these bulls,locally called roj,drinking water from these small lakes and ponds. But this year,these sources dried up months ago since there was negligible inflow of water due to poor rains,villagers said. As a result,they go from one farm to another in search of water and food.
But this has put them in confrontation with farmers. Due to deficient monsoon,Kharif crops have failed. A few farmers,who have tube-wells,have grown fodder and vegetable crops. But these crops are coming under attack from these animals of the deer family.
We have to maintain a vigil round the clock as a small lapse is enough for roj to damage the field. They damage more than they eat, said Mukesh Bhadaria (34),a farmer who has grown guar in around one bigha of land.
Bhadaria said that two persons have to patrol the field at night as the wild animals attack fields during this time. We have to apologise to our guests who visit us in the evening as we have to reach our farm by fall of the night, Bhadaria further said.
The farmer says that when nobody is around,blue bulls come and drink water from tanks built on farm.
But water is very scarce in this village. My well is 105 feet deep but there is no water in it. Luckily,I am among the few farmers in the village who have tube-wells with some water in them, he said. Bhadaria had sown cotton in his 17-bigha land but the crop failed due to shortage of rain. I could barely cover the cost of seeds. Instead of average 400 kg per bigha,this year the yield has barely been 60 kg. he said.
Magan Bharadia,another farmer,who owns a 30-bigha farmland to the south of the village,said,I could not sow groundnut last season as the rain came too late and too little. Cotton crop also failed. My guar field is now target of roj. They come to drink water at my farm and also prey on crops. We have complained to forest officials but nothing has happened. However,we have never attacked them since it is a crime. We just shoe them away. Magans 50-feet-deep well has also dried up.
Though,forest officers said they have made adequate arrangement of water for the wild animal. There is one active windmill in Babra round and we are also maintaining seven other artificial water points by tankers and hand pumps, Anshuman Sharma,deputy conservator of forest (DCF),Gir (E) division,told The Indian Express.
However,the forest department does not have a proper count of this animal of deer family,officials admitted.
People of the village say there is scarcity of drinking water also as the village is completely dependent on Narmada water supplied every third or fourth day.