Neeru Rathod is the 8th child in a family of 11 girls born to a Dalit construction worker in Surendranagar district of Gujarat, one of the most feudal and caste-ridden regions of India. Circumstances were difficult growing up but she found her path in 2006, when Video Volunteers and the NGO Navsarjan selected her to be part of a Community…
Summer is cruel to the villages of North Gujarat, bringing in its wake four months of arid heat, scorched earth and dried wells. For many years now, the residents of Sayala Block in Surendranagar district have had to await the arrival of the monsoon for any form of respite. Neglected by their government and dependent on expensive private tankers for a commodity as basic as water, they have suffered in no small measure.
Today’s video, however, is one of those rare success stories which keep hope alive. Over a year ago, IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Neeru Rathod set about on a campaign to improve the water supply situation of Sayala Block and help bring relief to her fellow villagers. In her present impact video, she talks about how she succeeded in this goal and brought water to the parched inhabitants of the Satvara locality. She also discussed the issue with us:
“The water situation in Satvara was quite terrible. Some of the residents had not received water in 2–3 years. When the rains came things were alright, but summers were unbearable. Most of us are wage workers here in Sayala Block. We cannot easily afford the water provided by private tankers, but if we try to collect it ourselves, we have to walk many miles and we lose out on our day’s wages.”
“The state of affairs in Satvara was especially bad, so I talked to the Sarpanch (village headman) and made him visit the area. He realised the gravity of the problem and had a new motor installed. I spoke with 6–7 families after that and they all told me that their troubles were greatly reduced. My success in Satvara has inspired me, but there is still a lot to be done.”
“At present, around half of the localities in Sayala receive water once in 10 days. This supply is normally enough to last until the next round, but things could be better. In the villages outside our block, for instance, the people get water once every 3–4 days. But work has restarted on the WASMO project which had come to a standstill for a year. Now our old pipelines are being replaced with new ones and I am told that everything will be ready in a year’s time. The battle is a long and ongoing one, but I feel optimistic.”
The Water and Sanitation Management Organisation or WASMO had earlier agreed to finance a scheme to help bring some reprieve to the inhabitants of Sayala Block. The problem, as identified by the Sarpanch or Headman of the region, was mainly with the pipelines: “The pipeline system is old and it can only facilitate 1,200 connections. At the moment, however, we have a load of 5,600.”
Work on this vital project had inexplicably come to a halt a year ago, but now that it has resumed, we hope our Sayala story will soon have the happy ending it has long deserved.
Links to Neeru Rathod’s other videos on the issue: