By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jan 11 (IANS) Spelling glad tidings, Environment & Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray on Tuesday announced that tribal hamlets in Kharshet-Shendripada, Nashik will get water taps in their dwellings within 3 months to end their daily life-threatening ordeal to get a couple of pots of drinking water.
A decision to this effect was arrived at a meeting held with Water Supply & Sanitation Minister Gulabrao Patil, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Women & Child Development Minister Yashomati Thakur and Minister of State for Water Resources Bachchu Kadu.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government has also decided to allocate Rs 200 crore under the Jal Jeevan Mission scheme for water supply to tribal and remote villages in Wardha, Amravati, Pune, Solapur, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar and Ratnagiri districts, Thackeray added.
The announcements came a couple of days after the state government constructed a make-shift metal bridge to connect around 300 tribal living in two-dozen remote hamlets in the Kharshet-Shendripada hills of Trimbakeshwar region in Nashik.
Last week, the state was shocked to see video clips on local TV channels of how tribal women and children trudged with metal pots of water up and down a steep hillock for their daily stock of drinking water from a difficult to access source – river-water springs up the hills.
At one point in the daily grind, they were forced to gingerly cross a deadly chasm — around 25 feet wide and at least 40 feet deep — walking on a single pole of bamboo and another bamboo to hold, both ways, much like a circus act for sheer survival.
There is a small river source near the hamlets, but the water was extremely polluted and dirty, compelling them to go elsewhere.
The tribal told the media that they had been undertaking the grueling hike daily for many years as the village panchayat had allegedly done nothing for them despite repeated complaints, and over the years, many had fallen into the chasm, resulting in serious injuries.
They also rued how many government schemes were announced for the rural people and tribal in the state but none had reached them since Independence, forcing them to take the risky route daily.
The tribal said they survive on basic agriculture irrigated by only monsoon water, but expressed a desire that if proper supply was ensured, they could take up cultivation round-the-year and improve their economic condition.
Shaken out of its stupor following the revelations, the state government moved at lightning speed to construct a safe to cross, metal rods bridge within 48 hours at the same location to mitigate the plight of the tribal women, a couple of days ago.
Thereafter, the government decided to provide the deprived tribal a permanent solution by bringing tap water to their homes – thrilling the tribal in the 75th Year of Indian Independence.
The tribal were particularly irked how the water from the rivers like Harsul and Taas flowing in the vicinity was given to other people in far-flung areas, but those living in the immediate neighborhood were bereft of even their drinking and cooking water needs – but hopefully, things may change in the next 3 months.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)