Digging their destinies
Villages in arid areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada fight back drought by reviving natural depressions along stream beds
Jcannot remember a time when she did not ANABAI KOHALE have to climb down a well in summer to collect the last drops of water left in it. “There was a large well with steps all the way to the bottom,and every summer,women would climb down it and fill their pots by scooping up the little water at the bottom with a small vaati (bowl).It took at least half an hour to fill up one pot,” remembers the septuagenarian from Ghoguldara village in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district.
Two decades ago, the step well collapsed, and the government dug two new wells. The women had no option but to tie a rope around their waists and let themselves down the wells.“Sometimes, my daughter-in-law would have to go at night to fetch water.The government provided tankers, but they were unreliable,” says Janabai grimly.
Under usual circumstances,this year,the situation in Ghoguldara should have been even worse than what Janabai describes.This year, Yavatmal received just 450 mm of rain, which is half the average rainfall for the district.Cotton production in the district is down to a dismal 325 kg per hectare, and no one is so much as thinking of sowing the rabi crop.
The revival of dohs has stopped migration from Dhangarwadi, an impoverished tribal village of mainly sheep farmers
APARNA PALLAVI / CSE