This year the Maan taluka (Maan area) in the Satara district of Maharashtra, along with the neighbouring Khatao taluka, is reeling under a severe drought. In 2011-12 the region has received almost no rainfall, making the situation worse than in 1972 when a severe drought had affected the region.
As groundwater levels have plummeted and wells dried up, people now have to walk about 5-10km everyday to fetch water. Drinking water is scarce; today many villages of the Maan taluka get their drinking water only through water tankers. Farmers could not harvest their Kharif crops due to the drought and as a result, there is no fodder left available for the cattle.
Drought is not new to Maan taluka. The average rainfall in the area has never been more than 5 inches and the lack of a comprehensive of policy for water management only makes the situation worse. Maan taluka, which has more than 115 villages a total population of 1, 99,563, has only 2 water reservoirs at Dhakani and Andhali. Dhakani reservoir has water but it is contaminated and is rendered unusable whereas the Andhali water reservoir has almost dried up.
The images here are part of an ongoing documentation of the drought in Maharashtra, covering villages in several talukas in Thane, Satara and other districts.
Villagers wait at an almost dried-up bore-well at Dolara village in Thane district of Maharashtra for the scant supply of water the well can provide.
Carrying water across a parched river-bed. Thane, Maharashtra.
Inside a well near Thakurwadi village, Maharashtra. A trickle of water is all that villagers have access to, often waiting for hours for a sufficient amount of water to collect.
Under the merciless sun. Mokhada taluka, Maharashtra.
Dolara village, Maharashtra. Government supplied water-tankers being too infrequent, villagers have devised their own means of getting water, even if that means traveling and then waiting for hours at a common well.
Water is in scant supply at Dengkarmal village near Kasara, Maharashtra. Women have to go down a steep hill to this well deep inside the forest to collect water.
The Sarpanch of Gopuj village in Khatav taluka, Maharashtra walks past destroyed farm-land. Having not recieved rainfall for the last two years, agricultural land here has been rendered useless.
Dengkarmal Village, Maharashtra. Women have to walk far, forage deep inside the forest to collect water. The government installed water tanks in the village, but water tankers being non-existent, water is yet to be found inside them.
The Vaitarna flows through the district of Thane in plentiful abundance. Three dams on the river have been made to provide water for the nearby megapolis of Mumbai. Official policy does not allow for the water to be distributed in the nearby villages.
Frustrated with not having enough water and facing continued negligence on the part of the Government, a villager takes it upon himself to dig and find water.
Dried up lake near Nashik, Maharashtra.
In search of Water. Nimsode village in Satara, Maharashtra.
Well near Sarakwadi village in Maharashtra. One of the very few wells in the region which still have a bit of water left.
Waiting for her turn. Near Thakuradi Village in Mokhada taluka, Maharashtra.
Farm stable lies empty. Villagers at Phulkoti have been forced to sell off their cattle at slaughterhouses as they had been unable to provide for them. Maan Taluka, Maharashtra.
Cattle Relief Camp, Mhaswad Village in Maan taluka, Maharashtra. At the initiative of the Maan Deshi Foundation, a non-governmental organisation which works out of Mhaswad, the camp provides much needed water and fodder relief to cattle.
Water distribution at the Cattle Camp. To lose cattle due to drought is a financial disaster and means the loss of the main source of income for whole families. This initiative, run without much support from the Government, has provided hope and relief in these trying times, for people from nearby villages.
Distribution of fodder at the camp.
Emaciated cattle at Mhaswad Cattle Camp, Maharashtra.
Sunset time. Trees that have failed to bear leaves or fruit after successive failures in Monsoon are a common sight here. Khatav taluka, Maharashta.
Photography is the channel I have chosen to communicate with the outside world, to bring to the fore stories of ordinary people. I realize with each passing day that life and the process of leading it is an extremely non-trivial affair and one not as evident as it might seem. I wish to bring this out in my images: the stuggle of ordinary people grappling to come to terms with the drama of life. I try to bring out the similarities between two great nations: France and India, similarly rich in their glorious pasts, political fervorsand religious traditions.