Pointing at an overhead storage tank, the villagers told me the tank was constructed 10 years ago, yet has been empty till date and never supplied a drop of water to the people. We were in Talwade village in Yeola tehsil, Nasik district. Close to the water tank, was a half constructed large pond which was meant to store the rain water in the monsoons and provide employment for the villagers today, during the harsh summers. Neither of the purposes was satisfied. Work continued only for a few days before it came to a halt leaving the people with no employment and no pond to harvest the rainwater.
Further ahead in the same village, we came to an area called Shivaji Nagar where a community of 500 landless labourers was living in dismal conditions. Earlier when the water for irrigation was available, they found work in others’ fields. Ever since water shortage caused drying up and abandoning of fields, there hasn’t been any employment for these families. Pushed to survive through extreme poverty, lack of resources and employment, these people have been living on begged rotis from the city of Aurangabad.
Shaukat Shah, father of 3 children, along with 50 others, boards the Manmad – Aurangabad passenger train, few times a week, to get rotis from the city back to their village. The rotis collected are dried up and stored in sacks. These rotis are shared by everyone in the community. They are boiled and eaten throughout the week. It was shocking to see rotten and mud covered rotis in the sacks as well. Playful children picked up dirty rotis from the bags that were opened to show us and started munching on them as if they were a delicacy.
In the village of Rajpur, Prakash Hegde runs an electric motor and water pump business. However due to water scarcity plaguing the villages for the past 3 years, his business hasn’t taken off. “When there’s no water only, what will we pump?” he questions. Similarly in the village of Mithsagar, Dattatreya Jadhav slowly progressed from owing a tea shop to a two room grocery shop. In the early days of the drought, people still had the spending capacity to buy a candy or an affordable indulgence. After 3 years of continuous drought and crop failure, left with no resources, who would come and buy something that isn’t a dire necessity? Jadhav today carries his goodies in an auto and travels to neighboring villages in hopes of making a profit.
It wasn’t hard to see how important water was and how it had to the power to drastically alter the quality of life, for the better or for the worse. When asked about water, everyone repeated the same story we’ve been hearing everywhere. With no water to even drink, taking bath was a luxury they could afford only once every 3-4 days. As the sun was setting, a deer wandered into the village of Rajpur looking for water, animals and humans alike are parched for the precious resource. Understanding the plight of the poor animal, the villagers gave the deer some water to drink. But who will give water to these villages.
Images: © Neelima Vallangi/Greenpeace.
Neelima is a travel blogger and photographer. She travelled across the drought-hit regions of Maharastra to find out the reality of the situation in the area.
Disclaimer: All views/opinions expressed in this articles are of the author/writer and NOT of this website.