People suffer, cows die thirsty in parched land
Among the various regions affected most by drinking water scarcity in India, the name of Bundelkhand has been mentioned frequently.
A recent visit to several remote villages of three districts of this region at the peak of the scorching summer revealed that even though the officially declared drought ended several months back, there is a very serious water shortage in vast rural areas as well as in some urban areas.
In fact the water scarcity was so acute that villagers told me time and again that arranging the day’s water supply has become their biggest task.
In seven out of eight villages that I visited people said that several farm and dairy animals particularly cows and bullocks have perished largely due to water shortage related factors during the last three months as the temperature started shooting up rather early this year.
There is much that can be done at comparatively low budgets for protecting, repairing and renovating these traditional water works using local wisdom so that the ability of these structures to conserve rainwater is retained.
In addition when we visit villages affected by water scarcity, people talk about relatively low-cost , small-scale, decentralised solutions to their problems.
In some cases some remedial works have already been approved and in others some work has been taken up only to be left incomplete due to resource constraints or other problems.
People also give examples of possible remedial actions being messed up due to corruption.
At present the biggest such project being taken up for implementation is the Ken Betwa Link Project which involves the construction of one large dam, a 250 km.
This project has been promoted in the name of solving the water crisis of Bundelkhand but it involves transfer to upper reaches of Betwa river, upstream of Bundelkhand while the adverse impact on water recharge in the downstream areas of Ken river flowing into Bundelkhand have been neglected.