TEN-YEAR-OLD Parveen Alam was going about her daily routine of carrying home buckets of water filled from the municipal water connection across the railway tracks when she lost her life on Sunday, after being hit by a train. The perilous journey across tracks is undertaken by scores of women and children from Sai Dham Chawl in Bhaskar Nagar, Kalwa (East) to procure drinking water. The acute shortage of water in the area has forced residents to cross the tracks, sometimes as late as 11pm.
“What can I do? There is no other way to get water. I have to send my boys to get water and all I can do is go with them and make sure the train is not coming,” said a resident of the chawl and a mother of 5.
Sai Dham Chawl makes up one of the three chawls in Bhaskar Nagar. While a water pipeline providing water to the three chawls was laid a few years back, Sai Dham, the last chawl along the stretch, receives the least water, once in 8-10 days, for about 30 minutes at a time. Alongside the large number of empty buckets lined before the pipeline, arguments often break out. Again, the respite is across the tracks, at a municipal water connection in Waghoba Nagar.
Parveeen, whose father Alam owns a mobile repairing store, lived in a shanty with six siblings. Her eldest brother Parvez, 16, said, “ She went as often as we needed water in the house. There is no other way. Even now we have have to go there and bring back water for the family”.
Nafeez Ansari, a resident, calls this a usual occurrence in the chawl. “Every month we lose at least six to seven lives at this crossing. There is no warning of the incoming train until it is at the crossing. But what can be done? Water is a necessity for all,” he said.
Tulsi Parshuram who sells fish for a living, said, “I lost two of my kids at that crossing. My daughter Jaishree was 25. I lost my son, Sunil, too. He was just 30 and a newly wed. There is no other option. ” The area is not served by water tankers system though but there are six to seven borewells at different spots. However, only a few are available to residents — some have dried up and others have been locked down by civic authorities.
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