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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Battling A Severe Water Crisis, These Tribal Women Are Rappelling Down A 6-Ft-Long Well To Get Water

  • IWB Post
  •  April 26, 2019

The residents of Mumbai get an abundant supply of water from the upper Vaitarna Dam in Nashik’s Trimbakeshwar taluka, situated 120 km, which has a capacity of 330 million cubic meters. But on the other hand, women living in the tribal settlement of Barde-Chi-Wadi, less than 2 km away from the shore of the dam, have to rappel down a 60-foot-long well more than 15 times to get water for their family.

But no political party in the Nashik Lok Sabha constituency has even mentioned the issue in their election campaigns. In the tribal hamlet of 50 families, this is the only well and women have to get up at 2 in the morning to get water. The situation worsens in the summer months when the water level in the well drops and the women have to rappel down.

“Mumbai survives because of the water it gets from this area. Ironically, people who live a stone’s throw away from the reservoir, do not get water. This is a massive problem, yet hardly anyone chooses to speak about it,” social activist Bhagwan Madhe said.

Even the pipeline and two storage tanks provided by the administration are non-functional and has not been repaired even though there have been repeated complaints to local leaders.

“Only women have the courage to go down the well. The men of the village avoid doing it. I fear for my life every time I am forced to go down. But if I don’t, I know that my family will not have water to drink,” Asha Pardhi, one of the residents, said in an interview with The Indian Express.

“We spend five to six hours every day to get water, as close to 50 families need water from the same well. If we want to save time, we have to do it in the night, which is dangerous,” Mangal Mengal, another resident said.

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Barde chi wadi lies less than 2 KM’s away from Vaitarna dam which pumps water to Mumbai 120 KM’s away. Mumbai gets 100 to 307 litres water per capita per day.

On why a direct pipeline from the dam hasn’t been provided, is a deeper issue than mere lack of funds or interest from the concerned authorities. In an interview with our blogger Ishita Tank, Bhagwan explains, “The people of these villages are all Adivasis and hence they are not given permission to take water from the dam. We also did an inquiry into this matter, that can a pipeline be constructed, to that the gram sevak B. A. Mangte said that they don’t give us permission to take water directly.

There is a pipeline and two storage tanks available, but they are faulty and even if they were in working condition, the water levels in the well are too low to be drawn up through them. If there is no water, what use are taps and pipes for?”

He goes on to add, “For the past three years my organization, Shramjivi Sangathan, has been organizing marches and protests each year and they all (politicians) say that we’ll do it next year, we’ll start the construction and we’ll end this issue of water forever. We’ve even written letters to the Panchayat Samiti Trambakeshwar, but neither a politician nor any officer has come and done something. MLA Shankar Thavlu Zole is from this area itself and even he’s not done anything to help these people.”

With the aim to the current crisis of water, IWB is currently collaborating with AnanTaya and MaahiRoj to work towards water conservation. Live chat sessions on the various social media websites like Twitter and Instagram are being conducted with experts daily to generate awareness for water conservation.

MaahiRoj, literally translating into Earth Day Every Day, by AnanTaya is an experience of unearthing the planet’s potential for sustainability in collaboration with like-minded designers and artisans from across the country. With a string of events that include interactive workshops, inspiring talks, films, heritage walks, water meditations, cultural tours, eco drives and the latest collection of sustainable arts, the festival this year is set to bring together experts from various fields who have considered the planet in their choices.

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