Harsha Vadlamani Women draw water from a well, which has long since gone dry, but is replenished once a day with water from tankers, at Karigaon in Beed, Maharshtra, March 25, 2016
Harsha Vadlamani A woman uses a tumbler to fill her pot from a small puddle on the bed of a well in Atola in Latur, Maharashtra, May 04, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani Deubai Disle, 60, winnows the family's harvest of bajra (pearl millet) at Dislewadi in Beed, Maharashtra. She said the yield from the 12-acre farm was only one-fifth of her usual yield, March 22, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani Farmers rebuild an illegal well on the bed of Godavari, the second longest river in India, at Gangawadi in Beed, Maharashtra, April 28, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani A cattle fodder camp at Siddewadi in Beed, Maharashtra. The state government has opened 327 such camps in the three heavily-affected districts of Beed, Latur, and Osmanabad, providing food and water to over 300,000 cattle, March 21, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani Komal Kedar, 14, was seven when her parents left her to migrate to western Maharashtra and work as cane cutters at a sugar mill, March 22, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani Lakshman Jadhav, 60, herds his cattle through a sugar mill at Telgaon in Beed, Maharashtra. The mill had shut its operations in the first week of February, after crushing only 373,000 ton of sugar cane, well under the target of 900,000 ton, April 29, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani Migrant workers return from a sugar mill in neighboring Karnataka, then transfer to smaller vehicles at Dharur in Beed, Maharahstra where they also shop for gifts and essential items before continuing onwards to their respective villages, March 23, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani About 350 migrant families, escaping the drought from Mukhed and the surrounding villages, set up camp at a ground in Ghatkopar in Mumbai, Maharashtra, May 25, 2016.
Harsha Vadlamani Madhukar Pawar, 26, a farmer from Pimpri Deshmukh in Parbhani, Maharashtra, migrated for the first time to Mumbai this year, where he cleans drains for a living, May 30, 2016.

India's Farmers, Dried Out and Displaced

Severe droughts across India have affected about 330 million people, roughly a quarter of the country’s population. A region known as Marathwada, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, was among the worst affected, having faced three bad monsoons in a row. In 2015, the region received only 49 percent of what is considered normal levels of rainfall.

Farmers, drawn to the region by government incentives, began cultivating sugarcane, a water-intensive crop that is ill-suited to Marathwada's semi-arid climate. Years of drought have brought even the most resourceful farmers to their knees. Some even took their own lives. In 2015, over one thousand farmers killed themselves in Marathwada alone.

This year, many of the sugarcane mills, which run for about six months every year, shut down their operations within a few months owing to reduced crop yields and the unavailability of water to process the cane. All who had migrated to work the fields returned home with less than half of what they had expected to make. Finding themselves without work or water in the villages during the summer months, many migrated to cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad.

Madhukar Pawar, a farmer from the village of Pimpri Deshmukh in Maharashtra, owns four acres of land, which is fairly well off by local standards. But the droughts have decimated his crops and forced him to move to Mumbai where he competes for daily wage work at construction sites and as a municipal cleaner clearing drains and sweeping roads for up to nine dollars a day. “It is well below my dignity to do such work,” Pawar said. “I felt so terrible the first time I had to clear the drains, but I don’t have a choice.”

HARSHA VADLAMANI is an independent documentary photographer based out of Hyderabad, India.

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