Madhya Pradesh’s first “cashless” village is actually “waterless”, prompting villagers to adopt a novel initiative of sourcing water through rooftop water pipes from tubewells located in their agricultural fields 1,000 to 2,000 feet away.
Thick black water pipes running over the rooftops and treetops in the village, coming from the agriculture fields might be mistaken as electric wires at first sight.
“We don’t care about cashless status as our main problem is acute water crisis. There is no water body in the nearby areas or a piped network in our village. So we are managing our own water supply”, said Cheetu Singh Tilak, a farmer from the village.
Badjhiri is a small roadside village on Bhopal-Sehore road with about 300 to 400 households mostly from other backward class, who earn their livelihood through farming and working in small ventures.
The village became the first cashless village in MP on December 20 declared by the state finance minister Jayant Malaiya.
Gyan Singh Tilak, another farmer said most bore wells in the village had dried up. Water remained available in some of them just during monsoon season.
“The ground water has receded over the years. There is no ground water even when we dig for bore wells till 600 feet. So we have no option but to look for water in the agricultural fields or buy it from some people in nearby areas. Those who cannot afford the water supply from fields as the water pipe costs too much, spend ₹600-800 per month for normal requirements and ironically, you have to pay for it in cash only,” he said.
Farmers in Badjhiri village said the talk of “cashless village” was humbug. “For this village to be cashless, we first must have access to cash income, for which most farmers are dependent on their crops.
In the absence of enough water, we are unable to exploit the full potential of our fields. Only good water supply can ensure us good crop yield, which in turn will get us cash,” said farmer Kanwal Singh Verma.