BSF personnel battle drinking water problem at border outposts in western Rajasthan
Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, guarding the 270-km-long India-Pakistan border in western Rajasthan, are grappling with a drinking water crisis.
Out of the 66 border outposts in Barmer, only two have piped drinking water; the rest depend on water supplied through tankers, BSF officials said.
There is a “drinking water problem at many posts,” said Shyam Kapoor, BSF deputy inspector general (acting) at Barmer sector. He further said this isn’t unusual in the region and that many villages face the same situation.
“We have moved proposals to the water works department and are expecting that there will soon be a solution,” Kapoor said.
Ravi Gandhi, BSF deputy inspector general at Rajasthan frontier, said the problem isn’t restricted to Barmer and that border outposts in Jaisalmer and Bikaner in the state face it too. “We are working with state and central government agencies to sort out this problem and expect that soon we will be able to get drinking water at all the border outposts,” he added.
The Rajasthan water works department’s executive engineer Hajariram Balwan said: “It is true that drinking water is not supplied through pipelines to all the border outposts. In 2014-15, we got a budget under the Border Area Development Plan, and four border outposts could be linked with drinking water pipelines.”
Balwan said the department and the BSF carried out a joint survey in the first week of February to sort out the problem. “BSF has asked us to prepare a detailed feasibility report, which is under process.”
He said the BSF would provide the department a special budget for drinking water supply. “We are expecting that the work (linking outposts with water pipelines) will start in July and will be completed in the next one year.”
Four years ago, BSF submitted a proposal for laying of water pipelines but no steps have been taken since.
“Sometimes we get tankers from nearby areas, but sometimes we have to bring water from towns located 80 to 125 km from border outposts,” said a BSF official who asked not to be named.
Each outpost needs about 20 tankers in a month. “Apart from paying the water works department (for the water), we have to bear the fuel expense of the tanker that fetches water to the outposts,” added this official.
He and other BSF officials who asked not to be named said they had raised the issue with home minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Munabao check post in Barmer in October 2016. Expressing concern, Singh had assured the BSF that a survey would be conducted soon on the feasibility of providing piped water to all the outposts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also aware of the problem, the BSF officials said.
Addressing a meeting at Pachpadra in Barmer district on April 12, 2014, when he was the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Modi had said the situation was similar at the Kutch border in Gujarat, where he had sanctioned a 30-km-long pipeline to meet the drinking water crisis . “When I can do it in Gujarat, then why not in Rajasthan,” Modi had said then.