Lucknow: Despite owning 12 bighas of land in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur district, Uzair Khan's family has landed in a massive financial crisis. His father's demise and floods this year have delivered a double blow to the family. Their peppermin cropt, also known as mentha, is cmpletely underwater now. They have no idea how to recover from this huge loss.
"We have no other source of income as we have already been reeling under financial crunch due to the second wave of COVID-19, and after floodwater has caused wide-spread damage to crops, I have lost all the money spent on seeds and fertilisers for raising crops on my 12-bigha farm. The precious topsoil is also lost. Now, I have to spend a lot of money again on labour and compost to prepare land for the next sowing season,” Uzair, a farmer from Asaipur village under Biswan tehsil in Sitapur, told Newsclick. He added that he had invested Rs 70,000 on the crop and he would have earned Rs 1.30 lakh if the flood had not damaged his crop
This is not the story of Uzair alone. All across Sitapur, villages like Kasipur, Mallapur and Govindapur under Reusa block and Basantapur, Ratauli, Sonsari and Rai Maror under Behta blockRiver are facing the same problem as these are located on the banks of Sharda.
Rameshwar Pal, another farmer of Asaipur village in Sitapur district, is upset after he suffered a heavy loss yet again. Pal had invested Rs 20,000 on maize and moong farmed in his one-acre land. He was expecting to make a good profit this summer after putting in months of hard labour and investment from a likely bumper maize crop. However, first, the lockdown due to the Covid-19 second wave and after that, heavy rainfall with thunderstorms damaged the crops and shattered his hopes.
"Moong is being sold at around ten thousand rupees per quintal and maize is at around eighteen thousand rupees per quintal. As per this calculation, I could have earned a handsome amount in the coming days but floodwaters damaged my crops," said Pal.
Meanwhile, heavy rainfall in many districts led to major rivers in Uttar Pradesh flowing near or above the danger mark and an alert was sounded in the low-lying districts of the state. According to information released by the Flood Management Information System Centre (FMISC), the Ganga at Kachhala Ghat in Ballia was flowing at the danger mark. Also, Rapti River at Rapti barrage in Shravasti, Gorakhpur and Balrampur districts while Sharda River in Sitapur and Lakhmipur Kheri were flowing above the danger mark. The Rohini river was flowing above the danger level at Trimohanighat in Maharajganj district.
According to former village head, Shiv Baran Lal, farmers living near the low-lying terai region have lost all of their crops, and have been left empty-handed. Of the approximately175 hectares of land available for agriculture, 85% is dependent on rains for their output. This year’s heavy rainfall has left the farmers in Sitapur as destitutes.
"As much as174 hectares of agricultural crops worth Rs 1 lakh crore have been damaged in the last 3-4 years due to heavy rain and flood. However, over a four year span, we have received no compensation from the government. Last year in 2020, only 20% farmers of our region got the compensation but only half of the amount, not full payment," the former village head claimed while speaking to Newsclick.
He went on to add, "Many villages in Sitapur and adjoining districts were cut off from district headquarters due to the rise in river water levels following heavy monsoon rains. Even several hectares of land near riverbanks were eroded due to strong water flow. But nobody received a single penny in their account despite running from the bank to the district administration office," he said, adding that he has sent reminders multiple times to the government with the help of district administration but all went in vain.
With the floods, the rabi crops are now decimated and the kharif season continues to look equally hopeless with no sign of the farmland recovering in time. In Ballia and adjoining Ghazipur districts, the farmer living in flood-affected areas met a similar fate due to flood-like situations.
"We have lost everything grown after tireless efforts of entire family. How will we survive now as we have no other source of income and my children who were working in metro cities for better livelihood are jobless due to pandemic and If the government doesn't help, a lot of people will die of hunger," Kamla Devi, a native of Amaura village in Ghazipur district, near Karamnasa River told Newsclick.
She said that people in at least 35 villages near Karamnasa River are living in fear as several villages would be marooned if the river continues to flow over above the danger mark. Accusing the government of not providing any financial assistance, Kamla said the situation remained the same every year during rainy season. She further said that, farmers have to suffer a lot due to untimely rain as sown crops get ruined by drowning every season. "This time the situation has become like a flood due to the rapid rise in water level. Due to this, the fear of flood has become prevalent among the villagers," she said.
Madan Singh from Maniyar village in Ballia district, close to Bihar border, has lost 2 acres of land due to floods over five years but has not receied any compensation from the state government. His paddy crop in the fields was submerged and several hectares of land near riverbanks were eroded due to strong water flow.
Farmers in Ballia and Ghazipur mostly grow sugarcane, wheat, paddy, maize, pulses and lentils but due to the untimely rain and flood-like situation, they suffer heavy losses every year. There was no government support even as they hardly get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) on any crop, forcing them to sell at throwaway rates.
According to reports, about two dozen villages in Barabanki are living under threat after floodwaters from Nepal have triggered a crisis. The villagers claimed that they might face soil erosion threats as the Saryu River water levels have risen above the danger mark.
As per report by the IMD, 16 districts —- Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Maharajganj, Deoria, Basti, Kushinagar, Siddhartha Nagar, Gorakhpur, Gonda, Sant Kabir Nagar, Ballia, Barabanki, Sitapur and Mau are very sensitive and they have been put on high alert due to the heavy rain.
Newsclick also approached UP's Jal Shakti Minister Mahendra Singh for his comment over the flood crisis, bur he did not answer calls.