People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 24 

June 14, 2009




Cries for Water Get Shriller


AS the maximum temperature in the state has crossed the 44į C mark, a severe crisis of power and potable water has gripped almost every village, town and city in Madhya Pradesh, giving rise to a law and order situation at places. The situation in Ujjain, a city of historic and religious significance, is that water is being provided at an interval of eight days at a stretch. Brawls and quarrels are now a daily affair in many places.

In Satna district, some 15,500 handpumps were installed to provide potable water to the people, in addition to the existing wells and tubewells. There were more than 500 ponds and bawdis here, and these traditional sources of water were quite efficient in rainwater harvesting. This was a big relief to the people as it maintained the groundwater level. But the people of this district are now raising painful cries for water; the situation has turned so grim that the people are purchasing water at Rs 20 a drum. While the ponds are drying up, more so because the local and regional mafias are increasingly occupying them illegally and trying to use these lands for commercial purposes, this poses before the people the threat of further worsening the water situation in the future. The problem gets accentuated because the administration has been unable to stem this tide of illegal occupations. So much so that there is absolutely no groundwater left in around 200 villages in two of the development blocks. The handpumps have failed to bring up water from the underground while the stopdams have also dried up. On the other hand, there appears to be no campaign to recharge the traditional water reservoirs.


In many of the rural areas, people have to trek down a mile or more to bring water for their families. The burden has fallen mainly on the femalefolk who are already overburdened.

Insofar as the urban areas are concerned, four out of 341 urban bodies have no tap water scheme at all. As many as 19 of them are proving water to the people at a gap of three days or more, 47 are doing so at a gap of two days and 93 at a gap of one day. Potable water crisis has also gripped the state capital, Bhopal, in addition to Dewas, Indore and Ujjain

In Indore, the crisis is assuming serious proportions, giving rise to the problem of law and order in the city. More than a dozen cases of mutual beatings have already been lodged, while there seems to be no end to petty quarrels. The Yashwant Sagar Reservoir had dried up completely in April itself. Now people are dependent on only Narmada riverís water, and 250 tankers are busy bringing water to the city-dwellers, but at a gap of three days in several parts of the city.


In Ujjain, water is being provided after a gap of one day, but for an hour only. Gambhir Dam was the main source of water supply here, but it dried up two months back. The municipal corporation chalked out an emergency scheme with an outlay of Rs 12 crore and water is now coming from the Amlaavdaabika Dam, through pipes.


Mahidpur is also suffering a severe potable water crisis.

Predominantly rural districts are still worse hit. A water crisis situation prevails in Dewas for the last several years. The Shipra river has almost dried up, while the Narmada riverís water is being supplied mainly to the industries. Groundwater level in the area has gone down below 400 feet or more.


According to the reports received so far, severe power cuts have added to the peopleís woes in Chhindwara, Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, Panna and several other places. It is now a crisis situation in the Bara Malehra and Gaurihaar tehsils of Chhatarpur district. Water is being supplied to the city of Chhatarpur once in four days --- that too for 30 to 45 minutes.


But the crux of the matter is that the state government is taking only symbolic steps at the most. (JS)