Manish Chandra Mishra | May 8, 2019 | 5 min read
Hdg: Villages in MP's Khargone district staring At Day Zero Crisis as the area witnesses world's hottest days
Khargone, Bhopal: While Indians were voting for the largest election in the history of the world, Khargone in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest temperature in the world as the mercury levels rose to 47.5 degree Celsius—the hottest in the entire world according to a weather website, worldweathertoday.info. This was reportedly the highest in the world for the second time in three days. But that is not all, as is synonymous with the summers in India, the underground water table in the city has sunken more than half a kilometre while the city is suffering from a debilitating water crisis.
The villages in the district are waiting for the inevitable day-zero. Many villages in the district like Temla depend on groundwater as their primary source for water. Since the pipeline which provides water to the village broke down, the residents of the village have only been able to get water once a month. The village last received water from the pipeline in February, after which the pipeline stopped functioning. Since then, the villagers use bull carts to transport water from faraway sources.
Inhabitants of the Dhabla village in Khargone district can be seen carrying containers of water on their carts every morning and evening. Dagari Bai, a resident of the village, pointed out that even though water crisis in the region is frequent, the fact that all the prominent water sources of the village have dried up shows the alarming reality. While a resident of the village, Kuwar Singh is kind enough to let about 50 families of the village draw water from the sole working well in the village, Dagari Bai is worried about the future as the temperatures will remain high till the month of June.
The situation is quite similar in Ambagaon, another village in the district. With a population of 350, the village is without any primary source of water as the groundwater sources dried up in February. Jhinki Bai, a resident of the village, said, “Bringing water from a pit which is five kilometres away from the village has become the routine of my life. Some people of the village have purchased donkeys to carry water, but many women have to carry water on their heads.”
The situation is so acute in 10 other villages in the district which include Bhinakgaon, Jhhiranya, Chhendiya, Anjan, Bhagwanpur and Segaon, that they will be running out of water soon.
DP Dubey, a senior scientist and former director of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Bhopal, considers this heatwave very dangerous not only for humans but also for other species. “The heat waves from Rajasthan and anticyclones or high-pressure areas are responsible for the high temperatures in Khargone district.”
He pointed out that birds and animals are the most vulnerable in this season as heatstroke has been attributed to be the cause of deaths in birds. Similarly, it has a significant impact on the evaporation of surface water and trees, he maintained.
The impact of the heatwave on birds can be seen in the district. Over 20 herons were found dead under a tree at Sanawad civil hospital in the first week of May.
Most of the surface water source, including Kunda river, which passes through this region, has dried up due to excessive heat and evaporation in the area.
Authorities are trying their best to maintain supply in Khargone city from the Dejla Dewada dam, but the dam is also facing a huge water deficit. According to BL Rawat, incharge of engineering for the dam, the dam can hold 50.29 million cubic meter water, but there is only two cubic meter water of available in the dam, which is half of what was available last year during the same time.
While desperate times call for desperate measures, the situation in Khargone city is so dire that people are getting water supply on alternate days. The officials have revealed that this practice is being carried out to maintain a supply of water over a longer period of time. Saraju Sangale, in charge of water supply in the municipality, stated that the city of Khargone needs 22 lakh gallons water per day, but due to the undergoing water crisis they are only able to supply 18 lakh gallons of water.
Barring a few villages on the banks of Narmada, most villages in the region are facing a massive water crisis. The administration’s inability to provide a solution to this problem has angered many. Rehmat, a water conservation activist, alleged that while the government shows as if they are serious about water conservation, they have done very little to address the issue. “If they work on permanent solutions like small check dams in villages and conserve traditional water sources for rainwater harvesting purposes, it can solve the crisis.”
Water activists say that indigenous solutions like planting trees can also help with the water crisis. Residents of Rupkhedi village adopted this solution and carried out a plantation drive in the village in 2001. Balam Balke, a resident of Rupkhedi village, said “While every neighboring village is facing a water crisis, all the wells and hand pumps in our village are in working condition. We planted many trees near the water source, as well and made a check dam in the village.”
PC Sharma, Public Relations Minister of Madhya Pradesh government, revealed that the Madhya Pradesh government is heading towards a permanent solution to this problem. “We are trying to make temporary arrangements to maintain water supply, but that is not the solution. We will come with a solid plan to eliminate the water crisis permanently. We will carry out works related to the water conservation plan at the village level soon, once the plan is finalized,” he added.
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