Baju bathes her 7-year-old son in a metal pan and doesn’t use soap because she will give the bathwater to cattle. “Cattle will not drink it if there’s soap,” the 30-year-old woman says as she washes her son in 41 degrees Celsius at Badi Khatu, a town 60 kilometres from Nagaur in Rajasthan.
Her family orders two-three water tankers every month at ` 300 each for drinking and cooking. She stores the water in plastic drums and large containers. If the tanker doesn’t come on time, she borrows water from her neighbour living a kilometre away.
This family of ironsmiths doesn’t run a workshop. Baju’s husband Baku Ram, 35, is a dailywage labourer and she looks after their four children at home.
Twenty- two districts of Rajasthan are reeling under water crisis. Officials claim tankers are sent to 1,056 habitations in 748 villages, but the supply is not enough.
The Centre sanctioned ` 1,345 crore to Rajasthan on Saturday to tackle drought and water scarcity after chief minister Vasundhara Raje met PM Narendra Modi.
The CM briefed Modi on drinking water woes in the state. The PM suggested that traditional waterstorage structures be revived with people’s participation, said a report by PTI, quoting a statement from the PMO.
The story is no different for villagers of Beer in Ajmer district. A dam, which was a water source for the villagers, is dry for the past 20 years. “Government water supply comes once in five days and we are forced to buy tankers,” said Alladin Khan, 63.