Kalavati Chaudhary, a resident of Koilidabur village in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, bordering Gujarat, and her husband used to trek eight kilometres every day, carrying water pots on head up and downhill, till the time donkeys came to their rescue.
She was not alone, but 51 families of the hillock hamlet, about 10 kilometres from the Gujarat border, had to take the rough terrain downhill to nearest Rapapur village and back uphill as the only four wells, that Koilidabur has, have dried up this summer, one of the worst in the district.
“The village had never faced such a situation before. This year all the wells are dry. I need water for our two children and my parents-in-law. So my husband and I would carry pots on our heads, for 4 km down to the base at Rapapur village and another 4-km up,” Chaudhary told The Sunday Express.
Faced with this predicament, Koilidabur villagers recently held a meeting and made representations to the District Collector of Nandurbar Balaji Manjule who directed Taloka tehsildar Pankaj Lokhande to survey the situation.
Realising that the terrain was tough, Manjule tapped local sources who advised about using donkeys to ferry water.
Manjule said they have identified a party, which supplies donkeys for carrying building material to construction sites. “Our officials talked to him and we started taking his services. The donkeys are well-trained to travel on rocky track.”
The water supply using donkeys began from May 21 and is likely to be continued for a month, even as the collectorate has started to look into the reasons due to which the wells have dried up. “If needed, we will dig the wells deeper. We will work out on all possible ways to get water,” said Manjule.
Sources said that 17 donkeys are being used for the transportation of water in plastic cans from borewells at the hill base in Rapapur village to Koilidabur. “Each donkey carries two plastic cans filled with water and every day they do two sorties up and down from the base to the hilltop. Over 1,100 litres of water is being supplied to Koilidabur, which has a population 315, daily. We will pay them as we have got enough funds,” said Tehsildar Pankaj Lokhande.
Koilidabur villagers are now feeling relieved.
“We are happy that the district collector had listened to our issues and started supplying water from Rapapur village. We have made one more demand that the government should make a road from our village to the base and provide some mode of transportation,” said village leader Kendre Gavle Vasave.
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