Mirzapur, UP: Over Rs 10 crore spent on water supply scheme; Lahuriya Deh back to being a ‘tanker’ village
The hill village in Mirzapur, which had recently been provided with piped water supply and tap connections, is back to using water from tankers. Within days of inauguration of its water supply project, the pipeline was damaged, and there are issues regarding power supply and diesel availability.
Brijendra Dubey 18 Sep 2023 1:36 PM GMT
Lahuriya Deh (Mirzapur), Uttar Pradesh
The celebrations at Lahuriya Deh, the infamous ‘tanker’ village in eastern Uttar Pradesh, were short-lived. The village at a hilltop in Mirzapur district, about 350 kilometres from the state capital Lucknow, which was recently in news as it received piped water supply for the first time in the past several decades, is back to being dependent on water tankers.
“Some hooligans broke the pipe and we are back to using the water tankers… It feels really sad, it’s as if our happiness of getting water from the taps was so short-lived,” Heeralal Yadav, a 47-year-old resident of the village, told Gaon Connection. “The pradhan has assured us that the supply of water will be fixed soon,” he added.
Last month, on August 29, Divya Mittal, the erstwhile district magistrate of Mirzapur inaugurated the piped drinking water facility at the Lahuriya Deh village. Gaon Connection had repeatedly reported on the plight of the village, which made the district administration take note of the issue.
About 2,000 inhabitants in the village were dependent on water tankers for all their daily needs related to drinking, cooking, bathing and washing. Each villager was rationed water from the tanker.
Mittal announced laying of the pipelines, fixing of taps in the village households and finally on August 29, piped water reached Lahuriya Deh. However, merely six days after the installation of the pipes and the taps, according to villagers, some anti-social elements broke the pipe and the village on the hill is back to getting the water from the tankers. The village is being supplied with water through tankers every three days.
Devendra Pratap Singh, the Additional District Magistrate of the Namami Gange Programme in Mirzapur admitted that the water supply to the village had been disrupted, and informed Gaon Connection that there were logistical challenges in providing water to the hill village which is situated at an elevation of 450 metres from the ground.
“There is no groundwater source so we have to supply water from surface water situated far from the village. There are issues regarding electricity and diesel which are used to supply the water. We are working to fix the problem and the village will soon receive the water supply through taps,” Singh told Gaon Connection on September 14.
When asked about the breaking of the pipe, the official stated that the pipe around the air valve had been damaged by some anti-social elements.
“We are aware of the damage. I have called a meeting of the stakeholders and only after the meeting, I will be able to inform when exactly I will be able to supply the water,” he added.
The ADM stated that the total cost of the project to provide piped water to the village cost Rs 108 million.
The village head of Lahuriya Deh also talked about the damage to the pipeline. Kaushalendra Gupta, pradhan of the village, stated that on September 15 he wrote a formal letter to Priyanka Niranjan, the present District Magistrate of Mirzapur, to demand the resumption of tap water supply.
“The pipeline is 16 kilometres long. Somebody cut the pipe and the supply was disrupted. The pipe is repaired but the water supply is yet to resume,” Kumar told Gaon Connection.
It is important to note that following the inauguration of the water supply project, Mittal, the former district magistrate, was removed from office and was put on a waiting list before she assumed the charge of district magistrate of Basti district on September 4. However, two days later she was also removed from Basti and was replaced by Andra Vamsi.
“The DM who inaugurated the supply was removed, she knew about our struggle. I don’t know what will happen now. People are anxious in my village. They fear that they will have to live off the water tankers now,” Ram Krishna Yadav, a 34-year-old village resident, told Gaon Connection.
“She [Mittal] had provided a solid solution to our problem. I wish she returns to Mirzpur as DM. As soon as she left the district, our supply of water ended,” 45-year-old Shyam Kali, another resident, told Gaon Connection.
Bringing water to Lahuria Deh wasn’t an easy task. Under the Har Ghar Nal Yojana scheme, the former DM Mittal sanctioned the laying of the water pipes to the village at the cost of eight crore rupees. The Har Ghar Nal Yojana, a scheme launched by the central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019, assures every rural household a tap connection by 2024.
“There were a lot of challenges in laying the water pipes and reaching water to the village. Many people told me that it would be impossible to lay water pipes to the village,” district magistrate Mittal had told Gaon Connection. “But the team worked hard and we did it, and I could not be happier. I hope the village progresses and its inhabitants always have enough water,” she had added.
It was last summer when as part of its Paani Yatra series, Gaon Connection published a report on the struggle of the rural residents in Lahuriya Deh on May 11, 2022. Taking stock of the report, the district administration, on June 9, had increased the number of tankers and the limit of 15 litres of water per individual was quashed. Thereafter, a project to bring piped water supply to Lahuriya Deh was planned and executed.