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Jhabua villagers dig riverbed for puddle, hidden from sun

indore Updated: May 01, 2016 17:51 IST
Ritesh Mishra
water crisis in Madhya Pradesh

Villagers gather with buckets and pots to collect water from the wells dug on the riverbed.(HT photo)

Water crisis continues to deepen in Madhya Pradesh’s western parts, forcing some villagers to dig deep into dry riverbed for their daily need.

The situation is acute in the 15-kilometre area of Jhabua district, about 165 kilometres from Indore. Over 70% of the district is suffering from water crisis where over 1,000 handpumps are lying defunct, officials said, adding, steps are being taken to address the situation on a war-footing.

But it is shocking in Lambela and Bhandakheda villages with over 4,000 population. They have one dysfunctional handpump among them and all the water sources have either dried up or have muddy remains to squeeze water from.

Villagers said they hadn’t received any help from the district administration so far and have to depend on a dry rain-fed river Bhamachi to meet their daily requirement. There are around 150 villages which depend on the dry river. A majority of them have borewells to meet their requirement. But, the residents of the two villages have to dig as deep as seven feet to get water from the dry river bed.

“Digging that deep sometimes takes more than five hours. People begin the digging in the midnight itself,” said Jambu Singh of village Bhandakheda. However, he said there had been no clashes so far as everybody knew about the crisis. But, echoing villagers’ sentiments, he said the authorities should do something soon or the situation might get worse.

Public Heath Engineering Department (PHED) executive engineer Jitendra Maavi said, “I am sending a team to these villages and if possible two boring wells will be dug up. The hand pump will also be repaired in next 24-hours.”

Manoj Thakur of Lambela said had the authorities decided to fix the handpump earlier, the situation wouldn’t have been as bad now. They did nothing despite many complaints about the handpump which is lying dysfunctional for the past three years, Thakur said.

“We are helpless without water. The kids, women and even males worry for water every day to survive,” he said.

Jhabua district collector Aruna Gupta said, “ The district is suffering from water crisis because the water level has gone down. But, it is not that big. We are taking all measures to supply water to the people of districts. I have alerted all the departments concerned. They are now in the field to solve all the problems.”