By the time it was March last year, most of the rivers in Jharkhand had dried up. The once green Jharkhand, filled with dozens of rivers and tributaries and natural springs is slowly drying up. It is an industrial state, rich in minerals and forest produce. Unfortunately, most of these extractive industries are consuming massive amounts of water without regulations, and combined with the forces of deforestation and climate change, the ground level water is going down at an alarming rate.
In the first story here, around 200 people from Ardo village in Sahebganj district are solely depending on a natural spring, which is rapidly getting contaminated with garbage accumulations. Though there is a solar powered water pump installed in the village, that never worked. They are waiting for the mechanic to come and fix their water woes.
Similarly in Saraikela, the single hand pump has not worked for the last two years. The villagers are using an old well situated farther away in the agricultural fields. That well water becomes muddy in the rainy season but the villagers have no other source of drinking water. Another village of Dhanamunji faces the same fate. There, the womenfolk queue up from as early as 2 AM to fetch water from a single well.
Walking upto 5 kilometres to get drinking water is a common sight in rural Jharkhand in summer months. Even the preserved water on the Dams for urban consumption is rationed. Community Correspondent Saroj Kumar, seeing the plight of one such village, mobilised the community and had meetings with the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department. The PHE repaired the hand pump, albeit it took 5 years, with persistent reminders to solve the problem.
The state's hydrological system is studied and being monitored by NITI Aayog . After the devastating drought of 2016, all the district heads are instructed to provide drinking water in scarce areas, mostly where the groundwater level has dropped more than 4 metres. The State Government has started implementing various remedial and preventive measures such as rain water harvesting and small dams to increase and restore the groundwater level. Let us review the ground situation with Shikha Paharin.