SONI, A resident of Kharag Mangoli village, walks 6 to 8 kilometres every day to fill water in buckets. The village has been facing an acute water shortage for the last 15 years. The rickety houses in the village, which falls in Old Panchkula, Sector 1-A and stretches across 3-km radius, have never been provided water connections. The area residents survive on water taps installed by the public health department at different locations.
Fed up with the continuing water crisis, the villagers blocked the Kalka-Shimla highway on Tuesday and requested the government to step in. Executive engineer of the public health department, Ashok Sharma, assured the villagers that sufficient water supply would be provided to them.
However, Anil Kumar, who works at the district courts in Panchkula, said, “We are living in very unhygienic conditions. We blocked the highway as no one was paying heed to our requests. We have visited the office of the district magistrate in Panchkula several times but no action has been taken.” At the village, which is located close to the Kalka-Shimla highway, frequent fights are witnessed over water, especially when people connect pipes to taps.
Sneh Lata, a housewife who works as domestic help, said, “I had filled four buckets and the water supply stopped by 1 pm. If there is no water supply from the tap, I will have to walk down up to Sector 4 to collect water.” Vinod Kumar, councillor of the area, said, “I have been raising problems of villagers in every House meeting but nothing much has been done. There is no water connection and with peak summers ahead, the villagers are having a tough time.”
Krishan Lal, a milkman, has tasked two members of his family with arranging water. “Our whole day is spent in collecting water. Morning starts with a struggle to fill water and ends with it,” said Lal. “I have been living in this village since 1987. Earlier the population was less and we could survive on wells and tubewells. But the population of the village has increased and with no water connections in houses, survival is becoming difficult.” Shivjot, who works as domestic help, sometimes walks up to Sector 4 in Panchkula to fill buckets with water from a tap in the market area. “Water is becoming a major issue as we need it for eating, bathing, cleaning and cooking,” she said.