For the Khatik community from Derwada, life in Rajasthan has been a constant struggle for recognition. With hollow promises made at each election, the community seems to have no hope that their hardships will ever come to an end. Shambhulal Khatik wants to become the voice of this disenfranchised community and others like it. He wants to report on the…
In a country where nothing ever works, it sometimes seems a good idea to put one’s faith in god. And this is what the residents of Delwara, a small village in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, very literally do. Each year, they line up outside the temples their region is famous for and buy their rain with prayers and libations. In his video today, Community Correspondent Shambhulal Khatik examines this age old practice in light of the area’s recurring water worries.
Water scarcity is of course a problem particularly acute in the desert state of Rajasthan. The government has accordingly put in place certain measures to help alleviate its parched populace, but they rest incomplete and unsatisfactory. The pious people, however, tend to trust in their deities and Shambhulal worries lest their faith turn them too tranquil and their government too lackadaisical:
“Praying for the rains has always been one of this region’s major traditions. Every year, about one or two months before the monsoon, we have a large fair in honour of the rain gods in our neighbouring village, Bilauta. Then at the end of summer, everyone visits the temples around here to break coconuts and offer prayers. The priests of the temples prophesise about the rains.”
“But I think the government also needs to take some responsibility in the matter. Our infrastructure needs to be up to date so that we can make full use of the water we do receive. Our village is on a hill, and at the bottom of this hill is the Gadala lake. There is a system of 3 canals which harvest rainwater from the top of the hill and bring it down to the lake. These canals serve 4 villages – Kailashpuri, Godwa, Belwara and Ghasa. At the moment, however, they are in disrepair. Furthermore, the residents of Godwa have diverted one of these canals to irrigate their fields. ”
“This whole system had been out of order since 2007, but then the government put aside a budget of Rs. 46 lakh for repair work in 2011. They did a patch-up job and put it back into use, but it got damaged again in the rains of 2012. We are now afraid that it will break down completely this following monsoon. The government never spent its full budget, but the authorities say that they have the funds now for materials but not enough to pay for labour. We hope that the system will be restored before the monsoon. Once the Gadala reservoir is full to capacity, water from it can be used for the next 8 months.”
“At the moment, our situation is not too bad. We get water from the Bageri dam every other day. But we are worried about the approaching summer, when the connection becomes more precarious. The water level in the Gadala reservoir is also falling dangerously low. There are 4-5 hand pumps in the village, out of which a couple are out of order. And to pump water up in our hilly region is in itself an immense task. It takes 15 minutes to get any water out at all. In the summer queues can last up to 3 hours.”
“I believe in god, but I don’t think we can just sit back and wait to be saved. I would put my faith in our propitiation rituals at about 50%. We need to act ourselves as well. Last week, the District Collector of our area started up a Facebook page to address our problems. I have written on it, I hope he responds soon.”
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Avijit Adhikary is a journalist with nearly 8000 days of field experience till date. In the past two decades, he has witnessed the ebb and flow of the media industry in India, with ripples felt in his region too. This includes the rise of digital media, the decline of print...