Getting a drum of water (not necessarily safe drinking water) is a job in its own. Women who normally get water in villages have to travel more than a kilometer (one side) on a lane not easy to traverse on for ‘water for life’ for their families. This is the situation in harijan ward number 15 in the Pichore block of the district Shivpuri, of the state of Madhya Pradesh in Central part of India. Though they have hand pumps but are just for namesake. They hardly work. Water is in acute shortage here. They have written to higher authorities but are waiting for the response, when will it come is a second question in itself. One can visibly observe anger and dissatisfaction in the community with the system, esp. when it comes to issue of water and other basic amenities. For them it does not matter who are in power, they feel situation for them does not changes. Similarly in ward number 39 of the Shivpuri urban women had protested outside the corporation office against the water shortage.
Not only in this ward, even in the village like Kotgaran in the district suffers from acute water shortage. The village has population of two thousand five hundred people but not enough water.
Reports emanating from Shivpuri clearly indicate increasing water shortages in the district. Ground water levels have fallen drastically – say by 40 feet, people in the district. They add that one has to dig 250 -300 feet to get to a water source. It had scanty rainfall in last two years. Though many parts in the state had witnessed excess rainfall this year but Shivpuri didn’t.
Districts had banned boring the ground further which is a normal practice, though not a solution. But one can still see the same happening by people in power, - public representatives. In the process it is the contractors which are minting money. Though seizure of such boring machines had been ordered and action has been taken against only few. Remember we are here just raising an issue of availability of water.
It is said that clean water and sanitation are kind of vital prerequisites for improved nutrition, reduction in child and maternal mortality and the fight against disease. District had witnessed difficult times and how the poverty did and hunger existing in the district had aggravated the affects of drought in years gone by. The district already has many challenges as regard to the situation of women and children is concerned and if this is the situation of water in winters am not sure what we have in store in the coming summer ? This is warning…….for times to come…..
Also whatever water will be there, there exists disparities in regards to its access – let’s not play this down. Caste, economic disparities and the gender gap play an important role here and in end it is women and children who would have to bear the brunt.
Government of India has announced the year 2007 as "Water Year" with a view to address water-related issues – a need immediate here.