Faced With Searing Heat and Water Woes, Bundelkhand's Villagers Take Matters into Their Own Hands

News18.com
Most residents in the region receive water just once a day and are forced to travel long distances to fulfill their basic requirements. Several villagers are now cleaning out their well and digging deeper to replenish the wells.

Damoh: Amid the searing June heat, 60 families in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh villages took up the daunting task to replenish the depleted water in their public well.

With three-feet-deep water, the well can supply the residents with water just once a day.

With the encouragement of a few volunteer organisations, who gave the locals machines, the residents came together in the scorching heat to clean and deepen the village well.

The first two-three days saw the locals work hard to deepen the well with the hope of finding a fresh water source.

Despite the hefty package that was given to Bundelkhand by the Centre years ago, water woes in the region that is shared by the two states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are yet to be addressed.

Ponds and wells dug under government schemes in the area have all dried up due to lack of proper care.

Like every year, natives of the Dahra village that is situated in parched pockets of the Bundelkhand region are facing an acute water shortage after its only source - a public well- dried up.

Natives of the nearby Bamnuda village, who are also dependent on the well, have been forced to look for alternatives as the diminished groundwater cannot be replenished beyond a level.

To fulfil their needs, the locals are compelled to travel a distance of 2 km to fetch water in the event that the well does not get refilled.

Volunteers of Manav Jivan Vikas Samiti (MJVS), Ekta Parishad and Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation (BRLF) came forward to encourage locals to join hands and clean the village well.

“With their collective effort and the pre-monsoon showers, the well now has water that is three feet water, enough to fulfil the needs of the locals,” said Nirbhay Singh, Secretary of MJVS and senior volunteer of Ekta Parishad, a Gandhian Organisation working towards rural upliftment and land rights.

“We had also started widening the pond in village Harrai but the work was stopped by the forest department,” said Singh adding that permission has now been granted by the Divisional Forest Officer to resume work.

Nandlal Singh, a volunteer from MJVS and a local resident, said that cleaning the well in Dahra village had restored the vital source. “We have also worked collectively to widen the pond in our village which will help us store water during the monsoon,” he said.

According to another Dahra resident, Suresh Kumar, the water from this well still bears a red hue so the locals are drawing potable water from another nearby well while water from the village well is being used for non-potable purposes.

“Abhi tak sirf ek time hi pani milta tha aur dur se pani lana padta tha. Aurten aur bachche pareshan the (Till now we only got one-time water supply and everyone especially women and kids were hassled with water scarcity),” he said.

Besides encouraging public participation, the volunteer organisations have also been helping the villages construct check dams to store rainwater during the monsoon season.

“We encourage public participation as water bodies can’t be conserved unless the public develops a sense of ownership towards them. Treating them as government projects won’t help,” said Nirbhay Singh adding that the organisations are also helping farmers engage in organic farming in Damoh.

Much like other parts of Bundelkhand, Damoh has been an economically backward and water scarce district and was recently in the news after15 monkeys died due to acute thirst.