Article and Image Courtesy : The Telegraph
Summer didn’t bring the drought. It’s been here since December, when the wells began drying.
Queuing men, women and children fill their red and blue cans with water from a black pipe in a corner of a barren field. The line is unending: many are returning with emptied cans to refill them and head home again — on foot, or on a bicycle or bullock cart.
“We are spending more time fetching water than doing anything else right now,” says Shekhappa Kushabhau Kamble, a middle-aged farmer.
As long as the power supply lasts, water will gush non-stop through this bore-well. “Maybe 8-10 hours a day,” says Dattatraya Shankar Sawant, 40, the owner of the farm and the bore-well.
His private bore-well is the only source of water now in Madgyal village, or within miles of it. Madgyal is lucky: other villages depend on the government’s water tankers whose irregular visits leave households with three or four full cans that must last four days — sometimes eight.
His bore-well, Sawant says, will be a lifeline for him and others in Madgyal for the next month or so till the rains arrive in July-end.
The signs of distress become more acute as you travel eastward through this drought-hit Jath tehsil in Sangli district’s east. Since winter, the 5,000 water-craved villages have been facing one of the worst droughts in recent times.
March kicked off water rationing and distress sale of cattle. Hordes of landless and small farmers migrated with their cows, buffaloes and sheep. By April, the situation had come to a boil. The villagers have now set strict dos and don’ts.
No using home toilets (every house in Madgyal has one): go to the fields instead.
No baths for humans or cattle, just a wipe with a wet towel. Drink sparingly. Share, if you have extra. That’s what Sawant is doing — he’s sharing his water.
The well-off dairy farmer, who doubles as a stringer for a Marathi daily, had struck pay dirt last December in the southeast corner of his three-acre farm. When the bore he had commissioned hit a depth of 350 metres, he struck a water source that hasn’t dried up even after being tapped for 8-10 hours every day since.
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