Safe drinking water still a distant dream for village residents
The thousand odd residents of this village, located 30 km from Ludhiana, have become dependent on just two hand pumps for their daily requirement of water, both for drinking and washing purposes. The pumps, which lift water from a depth of 350 feet, were installed by the village ‘panchayat’ two years ago after the upper surface of the groundwater was contaminated by the polluted Buddha Nullah, a seasonal water stream that runs through the Malwa region.
Over the years regular supply of safe drinking water has remained a pipedream for the villagers with repeated pledges by the state government to provide them purified water still unfulfilled.
The residents said they had stopped using hand-pumps installed at their homes long ago after the pumps began spewing contaminated water and people began falling sick after drinking it. Earlier the locals used to fetch water from a nearby village, Walipur. However, water in several villages in the area is also reported to be contaminated.
When Manpreet Singh Ayali was chairman of the ‘zila parishad’ (district council), he had promised to install RO (reverse osmosis) water purification systems in the villages. Even though Ayali is the state legislator from the Dakha assembly constituency, in which the village is situated, the much-touted RO system to provide safe water supply is nowhere near being realised. Though the equipment was installed before the general elections the project was left unfinished.
During a visit to the area where the Buddha Nullah merges with the Sutlej river long lines of villagers were seen at the two hand pumps, popularly known as ‘sarkari nalka’ (government water pumps). Locals said scuffles were common among those waiting for their turn to collect water.
However, the distressed villagers have not given up hole and have now decide to appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide them relief. Besides the lack of safe drinking water, they have been plagued by toxic effluents released into the Buddha Nullah. Though pipes to supply water to homes were installed last year taps remain dry.
Many residents of this village are very poor as they could not install their own water pumps at home.
“We stopped using hand pumps installed at our homes after many residents fell ill from drinking the contaminated water. Most of the time there isn’t enough water for bathing and washing and most days we can’t even take a bath. All homes should be provided supply of safe drinking water as soon as possible”, said a villager.
The village ‘sarpanch’, Gurmail Singh, said: “It might take two months or more to complete the RO system project. Water supply pipes were laid in some areas of the village last year”.
Meanwhile, Ayali said: “I’ll find out why the RO system has still not become functional in the village. I’ll also convene a meeting of the officials concerned to discuss the matter.”