As dams, wells dry up in Beed, monsoon is still a long five weeks away | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

As dams, wells dry up in Beed, monsoon is still a long five weeks away

May 15, 2024 07:36 AM IST

The water storage in the dams in Marathwada dropped to nearly one-tenth of capacity on Friday while on the same day last year it was more two-fifths even as eight dams that supply water to Beed have no water

Beed: Shabbir Sayyad, a resident of Dahiwandi in Shirur tehsil of Beed district, bagged the Padma Shri in 2018 for protecting cows and other bovine animals for more than three decades at his house. On a recent afternoon five years after winning India’s fourth highest civilian award, sixty-three-year-old Sayyad Mamu was staring at his cattle in his cowshed, wondering how he was going to keep them alive amidst the baking heat. The growing water and fodder scarcity has taken a toll on him. The Sayyads take their fleet of cattle more than 150 cattle five km away to graze and quench their thirst.

A woman in Kathoda village fills water from tankers. Villagers say tanker water cannot be used for drinking
A woman in Kathoda village fills water from tankers. Villagers say tanker water cannot be used for drinking

The Sayyads are not alone in Beed district struggling to get water for drinking, washing and bathing. The families get dirty water supplied from lakes several kilometres away. They use the dirty water for bathing, washing clothes and feeding cattle. Drinking water comes from places that are at least two to three kilometres away.

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The water storage in the dams in Marathwada dropped to nearly one-tenth of capacity on Friday. Same day last year, it was more than two-fifths. In Beed, of the eight dams that supply water to the district, three have no water, while two others some 2%. Storage in the other three range from some 7% to 22%. Five more weeks are to go before the monsoon sets and the situation is dire indeed.

Of the 3,393 water tankers deployed across the state, 382 have been deployed for 308 villages and 282 hamlets in Beed. This is the third largest in the state. Neighbouring Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar (656 tankers) and Jalna (488) tankers have more tankers than Beed.

“We have stopped getting tap water owing to our wells depleting. When there is ample water in the well we lift the water to the common tank and it is supplied through taps to doorsteps. Since the water in the lake has depleted, we have stopped the water supply system and physically fetch water from the well some two kilometers away. The government supplies water for washing, bathing and for cattle once a day through tankers. The water supplied is too dirty and we fear that it may lead to skin diseases,” said Jayashri Ovhal of Kathoda village in Beed.

Kothoda has around 200 households in hilly terrain. The families have purchased big plastic tanks that they use along with household utensils to store the water supplied by the tankers once a day.

“The water supplied by the government tankers is used for other than drinking purposes. We fetch drinking water from a public well two-km away as our borewell in the backyard has dried up. We bring drinking water through motorbikes with two cans hanging on either side of the two-wheeler, “ said Sudarshana Dake.

She says that the government should have organised cattle camps by now but hasn’t. “Grazing and making arrangements for drinking water for the cattle has become very difficult,” she adds.

Shabbir Sayyad says that he is forced to spend huge amounts of money on fodder owing to the non-availability of green fodder. “We used to purchase them at a very high cost of 7,000 for a gunny sack of jowar fodder. This year, the fodder is not available owing to the shortfall in rainfall last monsoon. Generally, the district administration sets up cattle camps, but this time there is no sign of any arrangements for the same,” he said.

In Jalna, around 102-km from Beed, Raju Chavan, a farmer from Ghansawangi village, is staring at the dried trees of Mosambi he planted on five acres in 2021. “I was expecting to harvest the fruits from 200 trees planted three years ago, but everything has been devastated because of no water. There is no water in the well or borewell and we cannot afford to hire tankers. I was expecting to earn 1 lakh to cover this year, after investing 2.5 lakh in its plantation,” Chavan said. He lives in a kachcha house near his field of Mosambi.

Shivkumar Swami, residential deputy collector, Beed, said, “We have been tapping water sources to make the water available to the villages in dire need. We have not come across complaints of dirty water. We will look into it if complaints are made.”

Swamy said that the fodder camps have not started yet as there was no such demand by the farmers. “We have cattle stock in large numbers in tehsils like Ashti and Patoda, but the water scarcity is relatively less because of the retreating showers in these areas last monsoon. Secondly, the farmers are not ready to send their cattle to the fodder depots because of the fear of diseases like lumpy (LSD),” he said.

Manisha Tokale of Jagar Foundation, an NGO working among cane cutters, said, “Water scarcity in villages like Kamkheda, Kathoda is so alarming that that farm laborers and cane cutters are compelled to purchase water at 500 for 2,000 liters for washing and cleaning and 30 a jar of 20 litres for drinking. They can’t afford to spend but have no option and end up selling off their goats and other belongings for purchasing water. The water they get through water tankers is dirty and has resulted in skin diseases among children and women.”

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    Surendra P Gangan is Senior Assistant Editor with political bureau of Hindustan Times’ Mumbai Edition. He covers state politics and Maharashtra government’s administrative stories. Reports on the developments in finances, agriculture, social sectors among others.

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