06/07/2016, 18.28
INDIA
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India, 330 million people affected by drought, a prayer for rain

by card. Oswald Gracias

Monsoon rains shortfall in the past two years have hit India’s rural population and crops very hard. Water resources are at their lowest level in ten years. In Maharashtra, 28,000 villages are without water. The situation has led to desperate acts, such as suicide among farmers.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – At least 330 million people in India have been affected by severe drought. For months, the country has suffered from a dry spell.  Agriculture, which employs most Indians, is in crisis. For those facing 40 centigrade and more the situation is tragic.

According to experts, the drought is caused by two years of poor monsoon rains, which usually compensated for periods of high temperatures. However, so far in 2016, there has been little rainfall and water resources have reached their lowest levels in a decade.

The impact on agriculture has been devastating, provoking a spate of suicides among farmers. In the State of Maharashtra, at least 116 farmers have taken their own life. Some 28,000 villages are without water.

The situation is such that the Bombay High Court has ordered that the Indian Premier League be shifted elsewhere because there is not enough water to prepare the playing fields.

What follows is a message from Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, followed by a Prayer for rain, which the cardinal asked to be recited in the archdiocese after every Mass.

This year our country is facing an unprecedented drought. In our own State of Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidharba are going through darkness, with people, especially women having to trudge miles to get water for drinking, washing etc. Some dams in Marathwada have only 2% reserve.

 The Western Region Social Service Forum is organising relief efforts. In our Archdiocese, this will be coordinated by the Centre for Social Action.

This crisis alerts us to the necessity of being aware of our need to care for creation. Pope Francis has made an urgent appeal for this in his Encyclical Laudato Si. A few years back we had a yearlong campaign for this in our Archdiocese.

We need to be reminded once again of our need to be careful in our use of water, to save energy and to protect nature. Our FABC Office for Climate Change now located in Mumbai will work on this.

The forecast from experts that the monsoons will be a bit delayed is a cause for great worry. Conscious of how much we depend on rains, I urge all our people to pray for a good monsoon.

The following prayer may be said every day after Mass, and added to the Prayer of the Faithful on Sundays:

O God in whom we live and move and have our being,

grant us sufficient rain so that being supplied with what sustains us in this present life,

we may seek more confidently what sustains us for eternity.

(For this we pray to the Lord or we make this prayer through Christ our Lord)

 

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)

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