Dashrath Manjhi of Bihar carved a road through the mountain for the people of his village.
Something similar happened in Lambahaldu village, approximately 130 km from Udaipur city.
A fight against the long-standing problem of water crisis in the village, four ‘Bahus’ (daughter- in- Law) of a family dug a 40-feet deep and 20-feet wide well in the hot desert, using only chisels and hammers. It took them three years to complete the construction which brought Lambahaldu its first well.
A thirsty village
Located in the deserts of Rajasthan, the hot and sultry climate of Lambahaldu makes life tough for the villagers. Low average precipitation level and lack of government initiatives add to the problem. Since independence, Lambahaldu has not had even a single well. Over the years, as the crisis grew, the villagers started to demand the construction of wells to ensure a continuous supply of water in their homes. According to the women of Lambahaldu, a government official once visited the village to look into the matter, however, with no effect.
Water scarcity has disrupted the lifestyle of the village folk. Farming is done only during the monsoon season due to unavailability of ground water and women are forced to make alternative arrangements for drinking water by walking for miles in summers and digging pits in the rainy season.
The village Sarpanch is also apathetic to the condition of the villagers.
As all doors closed for the villagers of Lambahaldu, four women of a family decided to take the matter into their own hands.
The women dug as stone particles hit their faces
The weather worked against them, but the women continued digging as stone particles hit their faces and the scorching heat parched their throats.
Three years later, Lambahaldu got its first well.
Munni, the youngest among four the daughter-in-laws, revealed that they started digging the well with only chisels and hammers when the men refused to help.
“When the men of the village were unwilling to dig the well, we decided to construct it ourselves. After digging 7 feet, we reached the layer of stones. To chop them, we used only chisels and hammers. As small pieces of stones kept bursting and hitting us in the mouth and the eyes, we started digging while covering our faces with a cloth.”
The second eldest daughter-in-law revealed that her family owns 20 bighas of land (approx. 5 acres), but due to water scarcity in the village, they are forced to go to Gujarat and work as labourers. “This is the situation for the last 10 years,” she added.
The family is forced to cultivate winter crops, but that hardly reaps profits. “Somehow cultivating Rabi crops is possible. But that doesn’t fetch us more than Rs 10,000 in 4 months”, she said.
Excavation every day till six in the evening
The four women used to work every day from 8 AM to 6 PM. After cooking meals for the family in the morning, their work would start. The only time they took a break was the monsoons.
The well was constructed with the motive to provide water to all – both the village inhabitants and the passersby.
“Excavation is still going on. Once the clear water comes out, we will make water tankers for passersby on the way to Udaipur”, said one of the women.
The construction of the well is a boon for Lambahaldu. Though the journey was long, the four women have now ensured that their village doesn’t face water scarcity and people can use the resource to fulfil their domestic and agricultural needs.
The Logical Indian applauds the efforts of the four bahus who constructed the first well in a desert village. We hope that their initiative works as an inspiration for many others.