13,500 Villages In Rajasthan Run Out of Drinking Water As Crisis Deepens

by Harsha Kumari Singh, originally posted on May 9, 2016


AJMER, RAJASTHAN:  The desert state of Rajasthan is sinking further into a water crisis as the summer peaks. 13,500 villages do not have access to safe drinking water, surviving solely at the mercy of water tankers sent by the government.

Rajasthan has the country’s 10 per cent land mass but only 1.1 per cent surface water making it almost completely dependent on ground water which is fast depleting. What’s worse is that only 10 per cent of wells have water that is safe for drinking. 88 per cent of Rajasthan’s water is saline, 55 per cent has very high fluoride.

Every day, women in Ajmer’s Baalpur make multiple trips of three kilometres each under scorching sun to the only well which has safe drinking water. They manage to bring back two pots of water in each trip – about 5-7 litres – which is not enough for a family of five.

“I walk three kilometres to fetch water. Sometimes we do three trips in a day. How many pots can I carry in one trip? My children are almost always thirsty and in this situation when we don’t have enough for ourselves, can we give water to our animals?” said Shobha.

The Sarpanch of the village said that of the 150 wells in and around the village only 10 have drinking water.

The government says the state has been forced to over exploit ground water which can make the situation worse in the coming future. Ground water levels in 190 of the 236 blocks are either overused or critically short of water.

“We are over exploiting ground water. We withdraw 100 per cent water but recharge only 22 per cent. The government drills a tube well and it goes dry within three years. We install hand pumps that go dry within 8 months,” said the state’s Public Health minister Kiran Maheshwari.

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