In July 2012 IndiaUnheard published a video from rural Gujarat which documented how people in Kasipara village were suffering from Fluorosis an ailment that could easily be avoided. Says Impact Manager Tania Devaiah “This was one of those videos which moved people to take action.” Over 2300 people signed an online petition on Change.org. After a two month struggle, the formidable force of Neeru & Tania led to the collapse of official resistance.
“Initially everyone was reluctant to do anything about this water problem. After much badgering, they agreed to test the water. They made phone calls in my presence, commanding people to send medicines immediately, test the water, do whatever necessary to solve this situation. I thought we could finally declare victory. Then I realized that the samples they were taking for testing were from the water being supplied by the Narmada, and not the actual water that people were drinking. Finally, the villagers got together and had the water tested themselves. The results came back proving what we had been saying all these days – the water was bad, not fit for drinking,” says Neeru
After a two month struggle, with support from the District Health Officer and the WASMO CEO, free medicines were distributed to over 200 families in Kasipara. However, the battle is not yet over. The officials have said that only the first round of medicines were going to be distributed door-to-door. The next round has to be availed of at the local hospital. There were promises of a water tank that would be built post elections. But like all election promises, it was an empty one. The sarpanch now claims that there is no need for a tank as potable water is now available.
Neeru is a firebrand activist – she has conducted hundreds of village video screenings, speaking into a microphone in front of a huge screen late in the evening to thousands of men, shattering their ideas about what a woman and a Dalit can do. Her work has brought water, roads, electricity – sea change to villages in her district. She has also made videos on sensitive issues like the AIDS epidemic and single women in rural India.
She vows to mobilize her community to solve the still existent water problems that surrounding villages are still facing. It is time that the community took the issue into their own hands and pushed for a solution and Neeru is confident that she can make that happen.
Read Tania’s blog on the process of this Impact here.
Article By: Radhika