As soon as a water tanker enters the lanes of Ghadi village in Gevrai taluka, Beed, scores of people carrying green pipes rush out and jump on to the moving tanker. Some are positioned on top on roofs and poles, ready to jump at the appropriate time. Men, women and children battle for space to insert their pipes. Several fall off, only to attempt it again.
Uddhav Khade, 32, sarpanch of the village watches unperturbed. He says he has seen worse.
With a population of 10,000 people, Ghadi village is one of the worst affected in the district. The severe drought-like situation has meant that the entire village relies on water tankers. On paper, a tanker visits the village six times each day supplying water to different areas, but people say a tanker visits an area once in three days.
“When the tanker is supposed to arrive, the entire village gathers on the national highway (NH 211), from where the tankers enter the village. As soon as the tanker nears, young men jump on to it from shop roofs and poles,” said Khade. “Many young boys often fall off. But the practice continues because people are desperate.”
The most important accessory in this village, locals say, is a 20-foot pipe.
A middle-aged woman, while collecting water from the tanker, said, “If you don’t have a pipe, very few villagers will let you use theirs. You have to wait till they finish filling their pots and you might end up with very little water.”
Villagers are prepared for the ritual. “At least two fit and agile people are home at all times just in case they are needed to fill water from the tanker, whenever it comes. Even if there is a wedding or an occasion, two people always stay home,” said Shaikh Yusub, 32, who lives in the village.
Beed collector Sunil Kendrekar admitted to the chaos.
“We are monitoring the situation in the Georai taluka very closely. If it gets worse, then we will look at increasing the number of tankers that supply water,” said Kendrekar.