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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Gurugramwale: A water refugee from Madhya Pradesh

A migrant looks back at potentially the primary reason behind his migration.

gurugram Updated: Aug 16, 2019 12:21 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Surinder Vishwakarma, who hails from the Sagar district in MP, is a gardener in a Gurugram city park.
Surinder Vishwakarma, who hails from the Sagar district in MP, is a gardener in a Gurugram city park. (HT Photo )

Walk across the National Capital Region and inevitably you would stumble into scores of construction labourers and rickshaw-pullers who migrated here from villages and towns of Madhya Pradesh.

Many of them—whom this writer encountered over the months—say they moved to the big city because of the looming water crisis. The rivers and wells are drying up, and there is no water to farm the land—go their common argument.

The young Surinder Vishwakarma is one such person. A gardener in a Gurugram city park for six years, he is from the Sagar district in Madhya Pradesh. “Sagar means sea,” says Mr Vishwakarma thoughtfully, as if expounding a profound truth. It is a cloudy afternoon and the gentleman is having lunch on the park’s jogging track with two friends—they always have their lunch together.

Mr Vishwakarma has never thought of identifying himself as a “water refugee”, but approaches it indirectly, confessing that “our farm lands are no longer as fertile as they used to be.” There was so much disillusionment with their prospects in agriculture that his father, a farmer, also followed him to the city to make a living.

Father and son, however, live separately with their families.

Recalling his “homeland”, the gardener says that his Sagar town might not have a sea, but it does have a talaab, a pond. “It used to be very big but now it has shrunk.”

The pond is next to the town’s bus stand, and “some years ago, when I went there, I saw the water was clean.”

Mr Vishwakarma has no idea about the current state of the pond. “Maybe all the water is gone,” he mutters casually.

The lunch is over.

The gardener walks to a nearby tap and turns it on to wash the dishes. The water sprints out in a strong firm flow. The sight is ordinary but perhaps not that ordinary, Mr Vishwakarma amusedly conjectures, to folks in his native land.