Nagpur: After a hiatus of over a week, Lord Indra, God of Gods responsible for rains has returned to Vidarbha and rest of Maharashtra. Areas of depression in M.P. and U.P. is driving rain clouds to Central India and the next one week promises decent rains for us in Vidarbha.
Customarily , last week of June monsoons are supposed to arrive even in Central India. This year, rains came late and even then haven’t been continuous. It has been stop and go for almost 3 weeks.
Farmers of Vidarbha, who are completely dependent on rain fed agriculture due to lack of dams and canals meant for agriculture, have to fine tune their agri-activities based on rains. But to erratic rain fall, deciding when to begin sowing has become a gamble.
You sow too early; it stops raining and the blazing sun comes out again. Your tender shoots that have just come out of the ground will wilt and die.
You wait for it to rain properly, you are too late in sowing, specially crops like cotton, they flower late, cotton bolls don’t form properly and you get less yield! Cotton has always been the main crop of this region. Time was, it was considered a cash crop, and was even referred to as “White Gold” because in the 70s, believe it or not, a quintal of cotton and a gram of gold sold for the same price!! Now there is no similarity at all.
Black cotton soil becoming a curse
Vidarbha is actually blessed with the most fertile soil in Maharashtra. The soil of Western Maharashtra is mostly red and full of pebbles and stones. It also has the Sahyadri range with deep ravines and asphalt cliffs. Konkan is hilly and too close to the saline seas to grow good crops.
It is the plateaus of Central India where most Vidarbha districts lie that has the black cotton soil, more forest cover so perennial rivers.Like Wardha nadi, but which too has begun drying in summers due to large scale deforestation.
As per expert sources –
“The soils of Maharashtra are residual, derived from the underlying basalts. In the semi-dry plateau, the regur (black-cotton soil) is clayey, rich in iron, but poor in nitrogen and organic matter and it is moisture-retentive. Where redeposited along the river valleys, those back soils are deeper and heavier, better suited for Rabi crops. Farther away, with a better mixture of lime, the morand soils form the ideal Kharif zone. The higher plateau areas have pather soils, which contain more gravel. In the rainy Konkan, and the Sahyadri Range, the same basalts give rise to the brick-red laterites productive under a forest-cover, but readily stripped into a sterile varkas when the vegetation is removed. By and large, soils of rest of Maharashtra are shallow and somewhat poor.
Water is the most precious natural resource of the state, greatly in the demand, and most unevenly distributed. A large number of villages lack drinking water, especially during the summer months, even in the wet Konkan. Barely 11% of the net sown area is irrigated.”
Thus probably because we have more “water retentive soils” that we have come last in availability of irrigable lands. We had vast plains, fertile soils and flowing rivers.
Now our plains are turning into deserts and rampant deforestation has reduced rainfall too.
Forget water for irrigation, in summers many Vidarbha towns like Akola and Yawalmal have severe drinking water crisis too!
Thus the cheers and the joy in our minds whenever it rains.
If Nature also turns its back on us, where do we go?