Five pots of water are all Sunita Kedari’s household in Burud village has to do with for two days. And with this, they have to manage all their drinking, washing and cleaning requirements. A lone water tanker comes to this village once in five days. And Sunita has to pay Rs 500 for the 5,000 litres of water that she stores in a plastic drum.
“How long the water lasts obviously depends upon usage. We are a big family and have to provide water to the cattle too,” says Sunita, 40, who prefers not to answer any question about the elections. “What is the use of talking about elections? Candidates come, make false promises and then don’t return. We have been tackling this water problem for a long time now.”
The hot dusty road from Burud leads to other water-starved villages in Ahmednagar where District Collector Anil Kawade admits that 41 tankers have been sent since March to more than 100 villages catering to a population of at least 1 lakh.
“Do you think the candidates are bothered about us,” asks Jyoti Kardile, adding: “The only relief is that earlier the tanker used to come once in eight days, now it does once in five days.”
At Walki village, the scenario seems slightly better but the residents here face a different problem. Lahu Kumar Choubey, who works at a local school, complains that 17 villages that were part of the Ghorpuri Pradeshi Pani Yojana were assured a consistent supply. “But the scheme was stopped in May last year. Water tankers do not come to these villages since they were part of the scheme. Villagers now have to fetch water from a nearby well,” he says.
Ahmednagar was among the worst drought-affected districts. The local administration had to send 700 water tankers to cater to a majority of the 1,500 affected villages. Collector Kawade says several measures have been taken.
The farmers suffered another blow when the recent hailstorm affected 92,000 hectares of land. A total of 1.5 lakh farmers were affected and Rs 17 crore out of the Rs 21 crore sanctioned by the state has been deposited in their bank accounts, claims Kawade.