When chapped lands in drought-ravaged Bundelkhand have made agriculture unviable and soaring temperatures drinking water increasingly a luxury, farm tool fabrication units seems to have struck gold in water tanker manufacturing.
From manufacturing around 25-30 threshers in a year, demand for agricultural tools has seen a sharp fall over the years in the region hit by drought, unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm in a matter of a few months. While the demand for tractor-driven tankers has seen a rise.
“We were manufacturers of agricultural implements, but have not been getting any orders for sometime understandably as agriculture is not doing well,” said Tahir Ali Saify of Samrat Engineering Works, a Jatara-based fabrication unit in Tikamgarh district, who have shifted to manufacturing tankers now.
“Earlier there were orders for about 25-30 threshers in a year, but this year there have been none,” said Saify, adding that every month the unit receives orders for at least half-a-dozen tankers from a small town like Jatara.
Tanker manufacturers charge about Rs 45,000 for a tractor-drawn tanker with 4,000-litre capacity.
“I have orders to make for tankers for this month,” said Tribhuwan Jha, a tanker manufacturer in Tikamgarh’s Niwari town, adding that though there is demand for tankers, there is immense competition among manufacturers too. “There is not much profit for manufacturers as margins are less,” he said.
Scarce water also pushing sales
With water bodies catering to towns drying up, urban authorities are increasingly supplementing water supply through tractor drawn tankers. Each 3,000 litre tanker costs anything between Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
Panchayats too are supplying water to villages through tankers filled from tube wells as several hand pumps and public health engineering (PHE) department’s Nal Jal Yojana--a piped water supply system--for rural areas are lying defunct.
To eke out political benefit in the drought-hit region, several elected representatives are on a tanker distribution spree at their respective constituencies. Besides, with wedding season round the corner, water tanker manufacturers are also expecting a spurt in demand.