There are 700 borewells in this village, but very little water in them

Chatrala village in Banaskantha, Gujarat, is situated in between two rivers -- Banans and Sipu. However, dwindling ground water level has left villagers living here huffing and puffing

Ranvijay Singh

Ranvijay Singh   6 Jun 2019 11:51 AM GMT

Edited by: Swati Subhedar

Ranvijay Singh & Mithilesh Dhar Dubey

Rupaji Chinaji Mali, 46, was full of hope when he hired some boys to get a borewell dug in his field. At 300 feet they heard the dreaded "thud" sound. The water pipes had hit stones, which meant there was no water in this borewell.

A dejected Rupaji sat in his field. He had spent Rs 1 lakh to get this work done.

Rupaji's nephew Karsan Mali, 24, said: "My uncle had dug three borewells in his field very recently. They all failed. This was the fourth one. Now we will again save money. It's impossible to live without water."

The Malis live in Chatrala village which is 17 kms from Deesa district in Banaskantha, Gujarat.

"Paani nathi" (There is no water) is something that every person living in this village will tell you about. Picture this: There are 600-700 borewells in this village, but very little water in them.

Interestingly, this village is situated in between two rivers -- Banans and Sipu. However, dwindling ground water level has left villagers living here huffing and puffing.

"There is acute water shortage in our village. Farmers here dig borewells, but they go dry. We spend around a lakh to dig a new one, but there is no guarantee that we would get water," said Bharat Bhai, 32, who lives in this village.

The NITI Aayog released the results of a study last year warning that India is facing its worst water crisis in history and that demand for portable water will outstrip supply by 2030 if steps are not taken.

Nearly 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about 2,00,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. Twenty-one cities will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people, the study noted.

Chatrala is not the only village facing water woes. Bhadli, Morthal Goliya, Chanda Ji Goliya, Aakdol, Kotha, Tanapur are other neighbouring villages where there is no water.

Many farmers have dug 10-15 borewells in their fields, but there is no water in them. There are wells in these village, but again, there is no water.

Many farmers are leaving their village and are migrating to cities in search of jobs.

Jeetu Bhai, 25, a farmer, was sitting idle in his field, next to a non-functional borewell. "What will we grow when there is no water. My elder brother has gone out in search of job."

"We have our own field, yet my son had to go out," said Dariya Ben, 42, his mother.

Bharat Bhai has dug seven borewells so far. His brother has 16 borewells -- all non-functional.

"I have spent Rs 10 lakh so far. Here, water is available at 600 feet. But there are so many stones that it's impossible to dig beyond a point. We hit stones at 30 feet. I don't think there is any water left," said Bharat.

He asked, "If we have to spend Rs 22-23 lakh on borewell, how will farmers survive?"

Bharat said he last saw a flowing river when he was a kid. In 2017, the Banas river flooded. Now there is no water in it. "There is a dam at Banas river just 7 kms from our village. There is a dam at Sipu river as well. But we don't get water. We are stuck between two dry rivers," he said.

Water scarcity is affecting not just humans, but animals as well. Pavan, 28, said: "There is no water for me, how will I give water to my cattle? Animals here are dying because there is no water."

Karsan Mali, who was still coming to terms with the fact that yet another borewell had malfunctioned, said: "We have to spend Rs 8-10 a kilo to buy fodder for our cattle. This is an added expenditure."

He said there are multiple problems, but no one is bothered to address these issues. He stared blankly at his barren fields and said: "Paani nathi".

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