Prakashi Dhakkad, 35, has polio but given the severe crisis of drinking water in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district where she lives, desperation has trounced her disability. Carrying two empty cans and leaning on a crutch, she limps her way to the water tanker.
The tanker is the first of drinking water to reach her neighbourhood Saraswati Nagar in eight days – a predicament that has become increasingly common in Shivpuri since January this year.
Near the tanker, there is a mad scramble and staking claim on the water is important. “We are getting drinking water once in 8 or 10 days. I have brought the containers here but will take the help of neighbours to carry water filled containers home,” Prakashi says.
Residents of Shivpuri face water shortage every summer but locals say this year has been the worst in decades. With the government scaling back its supply, most of the 2.5 lakh people in the city are left fending for themselves. Some pitch in to call a private water tanker but even these have started handing out waiting periods.
Sources like private borewells are of little help. “The borewell I have at home had water for 20 years has dried up this year. It is at a depth of 450 feet,” said Geeta Rawat. Experts say the ground water level in the area has dropped to as low as 1,000 feet.
Authorities say the Sankya Sagar lake which is the main source of drinking water for Shivpuri city has just enough to last a month even if water is supplied once in eight days.
In October last year, the Madhya Pradesh government declared drought nearly in 60 per cent of the state, including parts of Shivpuri district. But Munnalal Kushwaha, President of the Shivpuri Municipality said, “The state government has not given additional help and funds to tackle this water crisis.”