Prabhakar Dattuba Dodke, 65, retired as barber from the Beed Civil Hospital. But he’s very busy these days. He’s much sought-after in dry Marathwada as a water diviner.
“Call it my luck, or divine intervention, I have never failed in my attempts ever since the almighty gifted me with this extraordinary skill to serve people,” says Dattuba, better known as “Panade” as water diviners are called in the region.
Dattuba claims that in the last 41 years, he has helped dig a staggering 41,000 wells and bore wells across 250 villages in Aurangabad and Beed districts.
“Baring a few which dried up recently, most of these wells/bore wells are still active and are ensuring sufficient drinking water supply,” he says.
He blames over exploitation using electric pumps as the reason for some of the wells drying up.
Kabad Gulli, the lane where he lives, has six borewells all dug on Dattuba’s instructions. While most parts of Beed town depend on municipal tankers for drinking water, the Gulli in the old police station area, with more than 2,000 residents, have never needed a tanker to visit. The first well dug in 1975 dried up recently.
This has hurt Dattuba. “People installed multiple pumps at that well and wasted water. They should have been cautious knowing well it has not rained for the past three years. Where will water come from,” Dattuba asks. The well was the first he had dug.
“I was barely three-four years old when I would dream of standing on the ground with a giant stream of water flowing below the surface. I confided this to my mother who kept it to herself,” Dattuba recollects. When he was 20, the municipal authorities tried to sink a borewell in his lane, but failed to find water even after digging 60 ft. “I came to their rescue and using my intuition, identified the spot. Water was found at 40 ft.”
Read more: Marathwada: A land of dried up farms, dreams
He says he never demand money from those he helps. “Whatever they give me voluntarily, I donate to Darghas and temples in my area.”
At times when he finds difficulty in locating water, Dattuba pairs up with Ganpat Babar, 65, another legendary Panade who lives in an adjacent lane.
Baban Jadhav, a resident of the lane, share tales how his family was saved from an imminent water scarcity after the duo correctly found water in his backyard after experts failed.