Thirty four-year-old Parvati Warap, a resident of Paradi Wadi in Shahpur Taluka, has to forgo half a day’s wages as she has to invest that time in collecting water from far off sources for seven members of her family.
The water crisis in her village is worse, and so is the heat. The plight of most people in the tribal hamlets of Shahpur is the same. Many have to lose their wages merely to fill water. Women are forced to walk miles in 40 deg Cel temperature to get a bucket of water. The tankers the Zilla Parishad provides are not sufficient nor are they regular, claim the villagers.
The taluka that provides water to the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region and has major dams is parched.
Shahpur has a population of 3.14 lakh with 228 villages and 110 gram panchayats. An officer from the water resource department of Zilla Parishad, said, “We provide tankers to the villages in summer. The ratio of tankers is 11 tankers for every five villages and 13 Adivasipadas this year.”
Each of the villages has a population of approximately 200-250 people, so the tankers are still insufficient.
Narrating her ordeal, Warap said, “We are a family of seven. Our survival is dependent on my husband’s and my daily wages. However, since March this year, I could work merely half a day as I have to leave work early and go in search of water. My daughter fell sick due to heat stroke while she accompanied me to fill water. We are provided with tankers but the time is not fixed and water is insufficient.”
The crisis has impacted the villages of Kasara, Khardi, Shirol, Ajanup, Adivasipadas, Dand, Umbavane, Vashala, Ruichi, Bibalwadi, Khadyacha Pada, Parand, Naralwadi and many others. Women walk more than 3km to get a bucket or half-a-bucket of water from the well.
Prakash Khadka, 32, a social worker who works for Adivasipadas, said, “Even if a family member or the breadwinner is sick, does not have a proper footwear or cannot afford to miss daily work, the villagers have to keep all these aside and walk for kilometres to get a bucket of water. The situation sometimes is so bad that the people collect water with their hands. Water is a basic necessity. With soaring temperatures, villagers suffer from skin diseases and stomach problems due to unhygienic water.”
After pleading for water every year, the authorities send 15 water tankers for 34 villages, he said. “Every village has a population of more than 200 people. It becomes difficult for the people to deal with the crisis every year. Still, some of the villagers keep some part of the water for animals in the forest area.”
Deputy water engineer of Shahpur area, Vikas Jadhav, denied there was any water scarcity and said, “We have started supplying water tankers to the villages that face water crisis. A total of 18 villages and 105 Adivasipadas are getting 23 tankers daily. We have been ensuring that wells are filled with sufficient water. There is no crisis now.”