Indore: As if a pandemic was not enough that people of Jhabua are now finding themselves amidst a complete pandemonium surrounding water shortage. Scarcity of water in the tribal-dominated district has become a bigger challenge for locals than to deal with spread of Covid-19. The affected families are forced to spend the entire day bringing water from far off places and having to put locks on storage to stop stealing or misuse.
Water for drinking is so scarce for people of many gram panchayats in Jhabua that people can hardly afford to wash hands with soap several times a day as suggested by World Health Organization (WHO) to keep Corona at bay.
One of the worst-affected areas of Jhabua district facing acute scarcity of water is Jhonsar gram panchayat of Petlawad tehsil, which has population of around 1500 people. In Dhabria and Matapada localities of the gram panchayat, people covers a distance of up to 3km to fetch water daily.
Shaitan Bhuria, owner of the private bore-well, said, “I am just helping locals to get water but not charging anything as it’s a basic requirement for anyone.”
People can be seen waiting in long queues to get water from a private bore-well and then fetch it through specially-modified cycle, bullock cart or on their head under the scorching sun.
Amidst threat of spread of Covid-19, people can be seen avoiding rules of social-distancing and other precautions as they prefer getting water to meet their demand as utmost priority. According to the affected people, they have to make three-five rounds from their home to the source of water to meet their daily demand, which usually takes the whole day.
Leelabai, who used to cover a distance of around 2km to reach Shaitan Bhuria’s bore-well to fetch water, said that all hand pumps near her house have dried up while there is no line of tap water. “We use water carefully as we know its worth. Putting locks on drums filled with water is one way to protect it from being stolen or misused,” she said.
This is the situation even after 72 years of independence. According to executive engineer from PHE NS Bhide, power pumps and hand pumps are installed in rural areas to meet water demand. Summer is however the time when water level goes down in Jhabua and creates problem. If any of hand pumps are not working, it will be repaired.