By Karamveer Kamal
Due to lifting large pitchers of water on our head, women are heading down here and truthfully they are getting tired ” – Yashoda Zol, 18 years old was telling me the problem of her village.
It was afternoon of January but we were sweating due to heat in this area in the state of Maharashtra. This signs the visible drought in the future course of days ahead. We were sitting near a well where ‘Yashoda’ had come to take water. Three times a day they come to bring water from the well.
Yashoda’s village is on the hill and she has to come down from the hill and come to the well. On returning, she takes two big pitchers filled with water to her head.
She says, “You can say that my life revolves around water, I wake up early in the morning and I think that where will I have to go to get water today, and before sleeping, the same thing keeps revolving in my mind, Water will come from where. “
Where we were standing, there was only a dry ground all around us. We were in ‘Jawhar Tehsil’ of ‘Palghar District’ of Maharashtra. In this tribal dominated area, we reached Powerpara village where Yashoda was born and brought up .
Yashoda says, “I want water in my house. I will vote for someone who will bring water taps into the kitchen of my home.”
Despite of Good Mansoon, this area seems Drought Ridden
In the four months of monsoon,’ Jawhar’ and its adjoining areas have good rainfall, sometimes it rains up to 3287 millimeters.
This is the year when hundreds of tourists from Mumbai, Thane and Nashik come to enjoy the green views of the surrounding areas.Many people also capture the waterfalls, forests and wild flowers in there the camera.
But this was the month of January and we were sitting near that well which was almost dry. There was no trace of life far away.
Yashoda says, “Most of the time in my day passes through searching water, I am not only one who faces this problem but many women surrounds this village also have the same problem as most of us spends our time in search of water.
Yashoda wakes up early in the morning and the first thing that she does is reaching the well by coming down from the hill. Before leaving for college , she would have collected two pitchers of water. After that, traveling for an hour, she reaches her college in Jawhar city where she is studying BA.
After college, she goes to the computer coaching classes and returns from there to her home till evening. Empty pitchers at home are waiting for her. Yashoda picks up the pitchers and then goes towards the well below the hill. Yashoda’s sister is studying at the ‘Priyanka Indian Technical Institute’ (ITI). Her routine is also similar.
But Priyanka and Yashoda seem to be lucky to be compared to other girls living in this area. According to her, she is getting a chance to complete her studies which others do not get easily.
Many girls have left their studies incomplete for work at home. The most important and big work for these girls are to bring water to the house.
Despite the good rainfall in this monsoon, why is there such a lack of water in this area?
Is there a geographical reason behind this?
The answer is not simple. Professor Pradnya Kulkarni of the Marathi department at Jawhar College says, “This is not a siple problem but a gender problem.”
I met with an another college professor Anil Patil, he works on the issue of water, sanitation and education in tribal villages.
Mr. Kulkarni says, “The government does not have much work to arrange irrigation here. The geographical situation here is a bit difficult, it is not a plains but it is a plateau region and it is not easy to implement water conservation projects here.”
“But it is also true that the responsibility is not of the government only, the man-centric thought here is also somewhat responsible for these problems, it is considered to be the responsibility of the women for bringing water to the house, and hence nobody thinks that how difficult it is for women to do this. “
Professor Anil Patil says, “In an tribal village, we wanted to make such a well through which water could be brought to the villages above the hill by making a well, we also tried for it. But unfortunately this costs 90 percent higher than making a well under the hill area.”
“The people of the village have to deposit 10 percent of the money in this kind of project themselves, for which the men of the village refused to do so, why they should give us money for whatever we should get free. I wanted to fulfill because I saw a 7 month old pregnant woman carrying two pitchers on the head and climbing the mountain, but my heart was broken. “
MEN’S DECIDE AND WOMEN OBEY IT
It is said that there is no cost of everything you get and what was the price of this “free” water?
According to the UN report, ‘World Women’s Day 2015: Trends and Statistics’, women spend 200 million hours in search of water all over the world. It means that 22,800 years are lost only in search of water.
According to this report, 46 per cent of India’s women spend about fifteen or more minutes of water every day. This is the facts of price of free water.
Yashoda said, “These girls are coming to take water to make Mid Day Meals.” When we asked Yashoda after watching a group of girls coming down the hill handling pitchers.
Obviously, a woman who is making mid day meal for all children, it is impossible to take so much water for her. And there is no source of water around the school. It was surprising that only the girls were coming for water, not even a single boy was sent for this.
The message was clear that bringing water is the job of a woman. The irony is that women’s favor in this case does not matter.
(Info Sources BBC)
(The News is based on based on conversation with people in the discussion by BBC)