In some villages in Uttar Pradesh's Bundelkhand region, which has been hit by drought for the third time in a row due to deficient rainfall, people are now forced to eat chapatis made of grass and sabzi made of weeds.
Most of the villagers affected by the drought are farmers who have lost their crops in unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm earlier this year. The deficient rainfall has worsened the situation for the villagers as they have nothing left to eat.
The villagers, who are reported to be on the verge of starvation, survive on the little they are left with or on grass and weeds.
An Adivasi women from Bhadauna village in Bundelkhand region's Lalitpur district used to work in others' field, but is now unemployed with not much left to eat at home, Scroll reported.
"Ab khaani to hai apan ko chaar roti ya paach (I should be eating four-five rotis. But I'm not getting that many.) Mil rahi hai do ya dedh. (I'm getting only two rotis, or one and a half)," the Adivasi women, Shaanti said.
"After the children have eaten, whatever is left, we eat that," she added.
There are others who are eating food made of grass and weeds. Shaanti's neighbour Kundan Devi said they are eating rotis made of wheat flour and leaves that grows in the wild.
Another woman, Biniya Bai, in the village collects leftover grains from the fields and use it to make meals for her family. She uses dust of dal, "rice that grows wild in wet patches in the field" and seeds of samai – a kind of grass used as fodder for cattle – to cook her meals.
"To take out the seeds from the pods, we rub them, and then pound the seeds into flour," Bai said. She then uses pounded samai and dal dust to make chapatis.
In another village, Lalwadi, villagers collect wild grass and some seeds among many other things to feed their families. "We normally feed the grass to the cattle...but now we have no choice but to eat its by-product," villager Prasad said, NDTV reported.
The Bundelkhand region in the state has experienced less rain this monsoon. According to the Met department, the region received 321.3 mm rainfall that is 66 per cent less than normal.
The deficient rainfall has also affected the drinking water availability in the villages. Out of the ten hand-pumps in Muktaura village in Lalitpur, only one or two have water. Women have to travel far to fetch drinking water.
The condition of Bundelkhand was brought to the limelight by Yogendra Yadav, who was once an AAP leader. Yadav, who is now a Swaraj Abhiyan leader, conducted a survey in Bundelkhand region.
The survey was conducted in 807 households across all of Bundelkhand's tehsils between 27 October and 9 November, The Hindu reported.
Yadav said that the survey showed that the people in the region are on the verge of starvation.
"The broad issue is that people are living on the verge of starvation. 60% of people in that region have not had milk in the last one month and 40% have not had dal. We can't always blame the government. This time the society and media have been indifferent," The Times of India quoted Yadav as saying.