Little harvest, less land to till

By: Tashi Morup

Leh farmers face losses as flood debris rendered land uncultivable

Two months after a cloudburst and floods destroyed their crops and land, hundreds of farmers in Leh are struggling to make a living. Farmlands in the district of Ladakh are covered with thick layers of dried mud and boulders. This has led many Ladakhi family suffer as their source of livelihood has shattered. It has taken Leh several decades back.

Floods almost destroyed 1,500 ha of agricultural land, showed an assessment of the 15 worst-affected villages by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The report added that with most of the land under debris and boulders, resumption of farming will be difficult, making those solely dependent on it, vulnerable.

Flash floods are estimated to become regular in Leh due to increased levels of humidity. “Frequency and intensity of torrential rains have been increasing in Leh. Cloudbursts mainly occur in July or August and since the valley has loose soil, a 30 mm rain can cause havoc,” Sonam Lotus, a meteorologist with the India Meteorological Department, said.

The administration is yet to prepare a concrete plan to help people reclaim their land. Officials from the agriculture and soil conservation department who assessed the nature and extent of the damage have divided the affected land into three categories. The division is based on the amount of debris accumulated on the land: less than three feet (A), between three and five feet (B) and more than five feet (C).