In arid Marathwada, villagers dig hours to fill a pot of
Mar 23, 2015
BEED/JALNA: In the pitch darkness at 3am, the village of Katchincholi empties out onto the bone-dry river bed of the Godavari. Armed with as many pots as they can carry, the women start digging the gravel with their hands. Once a muddy pool of water appears, they scoop it into their pots. Then they strain the sludge and stones. This is the water the village drinks.
A single pot takes up to two hours to fill. And each home needs at least three pots of water daily. “I am here for at least six hours every day. My wrist-bones have started jutting out,” says Gangubai Shinde, who is in her 60s. As hundreds queue up at the water-holes, bitter fights break out.
Katchincholi’s residents cannot bathe more than once a week. “We wipe ourselves with a wet cloth. We wipe our plates and hands after a meal instead of washing them,” says former sarpanch Limbaji Khote. None of the toilets in the village can be used for lack of water.
The water crisis is building in this village in Beed’s Georai taluka. In the arid region of Marathwada, which received just half its regular rainfall, water storage in the dams is down to 15%. Across the region, wells and borewells are drying up. Officials say the drought in Maharashtra — among the most widespread in recent years — has affected crops more than drinking water. Yet Marathwada is already in the grip of a crisis which is set to intensify in the summer months. Last October, the region received water from 22 tankers. Now, that has swelled to 640.
Villagers have begun selling cattle at half-price in Beed’s Georai taluka, because they are running out of water and fodder. In the last month alone, Datta Parhad sold four of his animals. He sold a pair of bullocks for 20,000 even though they are worth twice the sum. And he ended up giving away two cows worth 30,000 free of cost to a relative.
“I had grown up with these animals. I could not eat for two days. But I have barely enough water for my family, how could I keep my cattle?” he said.
By afternoon in Jalna, schoolchildren drop their bags and rush out in their uniforms to scout for water. They carry cans on bicyles, water-drums on bullock carts and even head out on foot.
All the wells and most of the borewells have dried up in the Ganesh nagar village in Jalna. The bulk of the village depends on a single bore-well. While women spend three hours fetching water in the day, their children manage the evening supply.
Ten year old Yash Shirsat heads to the leaking Paithan-Jalna pipeline on his bicycle after school. “I spend two hours a day fetching water,” he says.
Shortage fuels water wars
The water crisis is set to trigger regional feuds with Marathwada’s residents demanding their share of water from the state’s rivers. In February, Marathwada residents took on Vidarbha over water from the Poorna river. Eleven villages from Mantha taluka in Jalna went on a hunger strike demanding that water from the Khadakpoorna dam which was obstructed at Buldhana, be released.
Most of Marathwada’s dams depend on water from rivers that originate in other regions in the state. But in many cases, the water is obstructed before it reaches Marathwada, allege experts.
“There is water politics and regional imbalance in the distribution of water,” says Pradeep Purandare, expert member of the Marathwada Statutory Development Board. Water from the Godavari is obstructed at Nasik, plans to release water from the Krishna river from Western Maharashtra were abruptly cancelled and water from the Poorna river is waylaid in Vidarbha’s Buldhana, he says.
h j •
Only two comments
First : after nearly 70 years of independence hundred of thousands of villages across the country are still waiting for safe drinking water. Why?
Second: shame on readers. There are hundreds of comments on trivial news items but so far none on this one. I think English speaking/ reading people get enough water to waste and don’t care about others
Simply we have been electing poor leaders, and a few greedy / corrupts. They favor their own pocket, and the best return they get is from capitalists …… Regardless, it is BJP or any other party .. they are only interested at vote time, and the rest .. is in front of you .. greed , and more greed .
Jay K•27539• •Canada•
“Villagers have begun selling cattle at half-price in Beed’s Georai taluka, because they are running out of water and fodder. ” – Is this the development Mr. Modi is talking about? Unable to provide / meet basic needs to those who voted, BJP in this state, as well as in the centre. That is a shame …… Poor administration – poor governance .., lot of talk .. no action / delivery
“比德的乔来塔陆卡地方村民们开始以半价卖牛，因为断了水、断了草料。”这就是穆迪说的发展吗？不能满足这个州以及中央政府的人民党选民提供基本需求。这是可耻…差劲的政府 – 差劲的治理…，说了许多…没有行动/成效
To the point•
Maha BJP is busy with beef ban! Wait.
R S M•11043• •Jharkhand•
Is this the model of development? Shame on it!
Pallavi•1346• •Pune•14 hours ago
It is very sad to see my own people suffer. People have been voting looters and traitors for so long since independence. There is no doubt so much debilitating problems as a result. Not just Maha, but West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, NE, Assam (do I even need to even mention J&K?). And know these problems have become entrenched and complicated GOK how they are going to be addressed and solved. For starters can any educated person from Jalna and Beed form an NGO to ask and collect donation from people across India and beyond for sourcing water tankers? There are many Indians who would like to help.