Drought drives milkmen away from this village

Drought drives milkmen away from this village

40 families from Shivanagar migrate to Haliyal forests in search of pasture for cattle

More than 40 families of dairy farmers have migrated in search of jobs from Shivanagar in Dharwad taluk. Acute fodder shortage for the cattle has compelled the milkmen to look for alternative sources.

Shivanagar, located at a distance of 18 km from Dharwad, is sandwiched between reserve forests. A majority of the population in the village are milkmen.

Drought has left no green pasture for the livestock and milk yield has come down significantly in the emaciated cows. Lack of rain has halted the agriculture activities.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is virtually unheard of in the village. Odd jobs at nearby Dharwad do not pay even for the bus fare. Migration is the only alternative to sustain life.

The men, along with more than 500 cattlehead, have shifted to the forest areas near Bhagavati dam, close to Haliyal in Uttara Kannada district. They will return home only for the ‘Panchami’ festival in July-August.

Shivanagar now wears a deserted look. The only activity in the village is undernourished children playing on the streets till they are served mid-day meal in the schools.

Baghubai, a villager, said children don’t even get milk to drink now as the cattle have been taken to the far-off Haliyal forest.

The village that comes under Honnapur Gram Panchayat is deprived of development projects and schemes rolled out by the State and the Central governments, say Dundu Janu Patil and Sindhu Beeru. A government doctor visits the village once a month. In case of emergency, the patients are  rushed to the nearest hospital in Alnavar, 16 km away from the village.

Their worst nightmare cames a couple of days ago when the Forest department officials claimed that the residents had encroached the forest land and asked them to vacate immediately, Dandu said.

A F Hosamani, Range Forest Officer, Dharwad, told Deccan Herald that Shivanagar comes under the reserve forest limits. “We have not asked  them to vacate, but told them not to build new houses.”

Drought and apathy of the government have left the residents high and dry.  

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