Searing heat and the worst drought in years have affected much of the Indian subcontinent.
GV Arid farmland in northern India
GV ZOOM TO CU Land TO cattle under shady tree
GV Village in dry area
SV PAN UP Dry wells
GV Drought-affected land
CU PAN TO GV Cracked and dry river bed TO bridge over dry ground
GV Man walking in drought area in Haryana State
SV & CU Man with camel shaded under tree (2 shots)
SV PAN UP Child collecting water from pipe
GV Women walking across field with water pot on head
GV Small pile of grain
GV Children walking in village
GV ZOOM TO SV Farmers with cattle
SV Woman collecting grain at storage well (6 shots)
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Background: Searing heat and the worst drought in years have affected much of the Indian subcontinent. The area involved stretches across northern India, though Bangladesh and into Burma. So far the Indian government has managed to prevent mass starvation, but the situation has caused grave concern.
SYNOPSIS: Everyone now waits hopefully for the monsoon season which is normally in June and July. This can, of course, bring other problems such as floods, but last year there was very little rain.
The Indian government says that 220 million people in 11 states are experiencing serious drought conditions. The worst affected are the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Meharashtra.
In the state of Haryana, east of Delhi, where the temperature has been reaching 45 degrees Centigrade (115 deg. Fahrenheit), people are reluctant to leave their homes during daylight for fear of sunstroke. Those who do, leave the fields by midday. At home the heat penetrates the mud and brick houses, turning them into ovens. In one northern town two people were killed when police fired during a fight over a water tap.
This village still has a little water for human consumption, but in many other remote areas people have to walk between 10 and 15 kilometres (6-9 miles), carrying brass or earthenware pots on their heads in search of water.
The government is aware of the problems of distribution in getting food and water to the most needy. At the moment there is enough surplus grain to prevent widespread starvation.
Last year's drought was described as one of the worst this century. Special provision is being made for those susceptible to malnutrition -- small children, and women either expecting or nursing babies. By the end of last year there was still 16 million tons of grain in national storehouses. This large grain surplus, and the greatly improved machinery for distribution should help avoid a human disaster.