SURAT: If Manjuben Chaudhary of Dinbari village does not wake up at 3.30am, she will have to walk at least five km in scorching sun to fetch water. She has to reach the village well by 4am sharp or else her turn to fill water would come after four hours.
Reeling under severe scarcity, this tribal hamlet in Valsad’s Kaprada taluka has been forced to chalk out a timetable for villagers to fill water from the well, the only source of potable water for its 2,000 villagers. Residents of all faliyas (lanes) have been given fixed time to fetch water from the well.
The water crisis has been worsened by the fast depletion of underground water in the region. “It takes lot of time for water to accumulate in the well. If we don’t follow the timetable, it is difficult to extract even one pot,” she said. This was the precise reason for scheduling a timetable for villagers.
Kaprada, which otherwise receives the highest rainfall in the state (around 100 inches of average annual rainfall), got only 40% last monsoon. The nearby check dam has also dried up, leaving this well as the only source of water. If residents of two lanes take water at 4am, the other two lanes will be allowed after four hours.
“All the villagers follow the timetable strictly. We don’t want the well to get dry,” said Chiman Chaudhary, a daily wage labourer.
“Entire Kaprada region is facing severe water shortage. In nearly 30 villages bordering Maharashtra, the situation is worst. They are following the timetable out of compulsion,” said Jitu Chaudhary, Congress MLA from Kaprada.
Authorities, however, say that the situation has not spiraled out of control.
“There is water shortage in few villages but villagers are getting minimum water for daily use. We are preparing to supply water through pipeline or water tanks in the next 15 days,” said CV Patel, mamlatdar, Kaprada.