Water is a basic need that many in the country continue to be deprived of. India's water wealth is such that it has only four per cent of the world's freshwater for the 16 per cent of the global population it represents, and this resource often does not reach people living within remote villages. A good proportion of them relies on groundwater availability, which also remains under the threat of drying out due to continuous extraction by villagers as well as large-scale industrialists.
With the basic resource being put into question, villagers from a small tribal village in the Jhargram district of West Bengal narrate what it is like to be surviving an acute water crisis with no viable solution in the near future.
Lack Of Water A Decade-Long Problem
A report by the New Indian Express spoke of the hardships faced by the tribals living in the Khairasole village on an everyday basis. With the lack of a single tubewell or pond, the village dwellers have to walk for more than three km to fetch water.
A villager, Babulal Mandi, said, "Be it for drinking or for other requirements, we are facing a problem in securing water. Even to quench our thirst, we have to think twice." Similar are the experiences narrated by the other villagers, who see no viable solution to their long-lying problem.
Sourabhi Murmur, a tribal resident, said that the water crisis has been evident in the village for decades and has directly influenced the lives and livelihood of the people. Yet another villager, Satya Mahato, was quoted saying, "It is tough to go about our daily lives if water is not available, that too for the whole village." Many villagers rely on the water brought by travelling long distances to sustain their cattle which brings in the primary income.
However, travelling far for water is a measure that cannot sustain them for long since not every household has the financial capacity to travel and buy water every single day. A solution to their problems was often placed as promises during election campaigns, but soon after the elections wrapped up, nobody batted an eye towards the village.
One such promise was made by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee as well, who has assured that the water crisis faced by the tribes would be sorted out by 2024. Until then, the tribals continue their wait for water and a future that does not seem entirely bleak.
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