Hyderabad: The ongoing drought is fuelling distress migration from districts in Telangana, a trend that was witnessed in the early 2000s. The severe drought conditions for the second consecutive year have led to crop failure, mounting debts, chronic unemployment and failure of the NREGA scheme, especially in the districts of Mahbubnagar, Medak, Nalgonda and Adilabad, forcing large-scale exodus of farmers and others.
The state government now fears that the crime rate will increase as earlier experiences suggest that whenever there have been droughts, the crime rate in the state has gone up, especially in rural and interior areas.
As per official estimates, Mahabubnagar tops the list with over 10 lakh rural population migrating to Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts in search of livelihood, mostly as daily-wage labourers, watchmen in colonies, apartments, shops etc. besides engaging in granite and construction industry on the city’s outskirts.
Mahabubnagar is followed by Medak at eight lakh, Nizamabad at seven lakh and Adilabad at five lakh. “The severe drought conditions will hit not only the agriculture sector but would also lead to several social problems. There will be large-scale migration of people from rural areas to urban areas. There were instances earlier of increased crime rates where drought migrants had settled because of poverty and unemployment. The roads and highways surrounding villages and interior areas witness a high number of theft cases with travellers on roads being attacked for money and other valuable items,” said an official of the Agriculture department, which prepared a report on adverse impacts of drought.
Citing instances, he said that the districts of Adilabad, Nizamabad, Medak and Warangal had recorded 60 per cent higher crime rates between 2000 and 2004 due to consecutive droughts, with most being road-side thefts near Khanapur, Basar, Ramayampet, Dichpally etc.
The other social problem being witnessed on account of drought is increasing school dropouts in government schools in rural areas due to the families migrating to urban areas.
“It’s difficult to earn even `100 per day in villages in drought conditions. But in Hyderabad, we can earn up to Rs 500 per day as daily-wage labourers easily and working as watchmen, security guards etc.,” said Shivanna, a small farmer from Mahabubnagar district.