Several acres of paddy fields, producing popular rice varieties of ‘Indrayani’ and ‘Ambe mohor’ are lying unattended at Malin village as many farmers and their families have died in the landslide.
Rice cultivation has remained the traditional occupation at Malin village in Ambegaon tehsil as the place has been located at a very high altitude and receives good rainfall, favourable for paddy growing.
“There is no one look after several paddy farms as its owners and caretakers have become victims of this tragedy. Like any other crop, paddy too require lot of care and maintenance throughout season. God knows what will happen to such fields,” says Anusaya Zanjare, a farmer.
The old woman, who does not know her age, said each farmer’s family at Malin cultivates approximately nine to 10 quintal rice during paddy season.
“The paddy seasons starts since the beginning of monsoon and ends just before Diwali festival. We grow ‘Indrayani’ and ‘Ambe mohor’ , the popular rich varieties.Many young generation members from our village have migrated to Pune and other cities. Only old people like us have still been engaged in rice cultivation. Wednesday’s landslide has killed many of the old people. It will affect rice cultivation in our village,” Zanjare said.
Chandrakant Zanjare, another paddy grower, said villagers staying near landslide hit place and others living on nearby mountain slopes, have left Malin post natural tragedy.
“Villagers were gripped by panic. Such a huge disaster was unheard of in our area. Fearing their lives, villages have left for other places. Some of those even did not bother to lock their houses. This sudden depletion in local population would affect rice cultivation in our area,” he said.
Located in Ambegaon taluka of Pune district, Malin village had population of around 700 before the landslide. Apprehensions that around 150 people could possibly lose lives coupled with spurt in voluntary migration of people fearing another such tragedy is believed to have reduced the population by around half.
Farmers vehemently denied rampant practice of rice cultivation in their area has taken any toll on balance of the nature.
“Rice cultivation is practiced here since ages. It is carried out on slopes of mountains with proper technique of water utilisation.
The mountains do not suffer any damage due to rice cultivation,” they said.
Meanwhile, Republican Party of India’s leader Ramdas Athavale, who visited the landslide hit Malin village on Friday, demanded that efforts be taken for proper rehabilitation of affected villagers, considering that their livelihood depends upon rice cultivation.
Local MLA and NCP leader Dilip Walse-Patil, whose constituency covers Malin village, said rehabilitation of affected population would take place after consultation with tribal welfare minister and senior party leader Madhukarrao Pichad soon.