One Place in Maharashtra that could use Jalyukta Shivar, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s flagship water programme, is the village he has adopted.
Some 6,200 drought-hit villages have benefited from the programme but Fetri, which Fadnavis adopted two months ago under the Adarsh Gram Yojana, makes do with water that is supplied on alternate days.
Villagers say their main source for water, Gorewada talav in a distant forest, can no longer cope with the demand from 14 villages along the national highway in rural Nagpur. “We have become used to getting water on alternate days. In summer, there is often no water supply for an entire week,” said Sudanand Ghormade of Fetri. Her niece Diksha, studying engineering at S P Jain Institute, points at open drains from where both regular waste water and sewage flow. “We have made repeated demands to cover the open drains and give us a separate sewage line,” Diksha said.
“It is not just about water supply but also about poor quality,” agreed Jyoti Bhimrao Raut, sarpanch of Fetri.
A 1,000-litre tank drawn by an open cart sometimes arrives to supply to the better off families. Another common sight is long pipes connected to electric motors drawing water from an old well to irrigate the fields. The water level in the well is below 50 feet.
The reason Fadnavis adopted this village goes back to his first assembly election in 1999. After getting the ticket from Western Nagpur, Fadnavis began his campaign from Fetri. He offered prayers at the Datta temple, smashed a coconut and set off.
Though they fret about it, villagers are optimistic that the recent “adoption” will set things right, and are eager for a visit. They have put up a banner of Fadnavis at the entrance to the village.
Members of the gram panchayat said it was Fadnavis’s initiative to get water from the pond to the 14 villages of the area. The gram panchayat is hopeful of a visit soon.
But villagers want a lot more done. “We have an excellent highway but no healthcare facility in the village. If there is an accident we have to travel 35 km to Nagpur for help,” said S D Pawar, an elderly villager. And Sandeep Bansod said, “There are many problems in the village but we are hopeful things will change for the better.”
The area has schools and colleges but no job opportunities, villagers say. Fetri itself has a number of jobless young engineers and graduates. “Earlier, we would spend a few hours in the fields and earn. Now we sit idle,” said Surekha Langde, recalling proudly that Fadnavis had once visited their home for tea.
At Datta Mandir Trust, a member said, “When Fadnavis was the MLA, he would visit us every winter on Datta Jayanti.”