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Vanishing water sends people packing

india Updated: May 23, 2011 00:18 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal
Pankaj Jaiswal
Hindustan Times
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Migration from the parched lands of Bundelkhand is common. But the scene in Dadhat Maaf, a village in Kabrai tehsil of Mahoba is even bleaker. Nearly 90 % of its inhabitants have migrated out. Just about 250 people live in the village that had 3,000 population. The village has no water left-either for drinking or for washing.

Two hundred and fifty people living there are surviving on the water they scrape from 10 wells that have water at bed level. The other 240 wells are completely dry. The four hand pumps refused to yield water soon after the onset of the summers.

The ground water level in the village has gone down to 120 feet-too difficult a depth to reach in the rocky belly of the earth there.

"Our primary occupation was vegetable cultivation. But we can't cultivate anymore. So people began migrating. First the surface water dried up when the irrigation canal (from Urmil river) passing the village began thinning in 2008. In last four years, the ground water level too went down. Now, the village-an old one-has just elderly and a handful of youths left," said Harichand Kushwaha, a villager. Small wonder most of the houses are locked. The locks too have turned rusty over the period of time. Mohan Sahu's is one such house-he took his entire family to Bhind, a part of Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh.

Ashish Dixit, a drought activist, said he chanced upon the village while travelling on the route close to the village. "Despite being from this region, I was shocked to see this level of migration due to water scarcity," he said.

Dixit said he learnt that while migrating, several Dadhat Maaf residents sublet their job cards of rural employment scheme.

The region has been under drought or rain deficiency for the past 7 years. The Union government on Thursday ago announced Rs 200 crore for water resources for Bundelkhand while the summer has already peaked.

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