During a recent visit to a hamlet near Mumbai, India, Reuters witnessed the daily struggle of women and children as they collected water for their households. Using buckets, they drew water from a well and poured it through strainers into containers, preparing for the journey back home. Despite being located just 150 km (93 miles) from the bustling financial capital and close to a dam that supplies water to the city, the villagers face severe water shortages from March to May each year.
Residents of the hamlet, known as Telamwadi, have to trek over a mile to the well, which is replenished by tankers daily. With temperatures soaring as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) during these months, the scarcity of water becomes even more acute. The villagers, who rear poultry and livestock, express frustration, claiming that all the water is directed to Mumbai, leaving them with nothing for themselves or their animals.
Although the Vaitarna dam, which supplies Mumbai, is just 50 km (31 miles) away from Telamwadi, the two are not connected. India ranks among the world’s most water-stressed nations, with only 4% of global water resources despite having the largest population, accounting for 18% of the global total.
Authorities in Maharashtra, the state where both Telamwadi and Mumbai are located, have plans to address the water scarcity issue. They expect to complete an alternative water supply project for Telamwadi by the following summer. In the meantime, the government arranges daily tanker supplies to ensure the residents do not face immediate issues. The long-term solution involves sourcing water from the Bori River through a dam located at a higher altitude.
Until the permanent solution is implemented, the villagers must rely on the tankers during the dry summer months, when the nearby well completely dries up. They take precautions by using strainers to filter out solid waste, but sometimes the strainers accidentally fall into the well. In such cases, one brave villager has to descend 15 to 20 feet (5 to 7 yards) to retrieve them, relying on cracks in the walls for support. The journey is perilous and carries the risk of slipping and falling.
The plight of Telamwadi highlights the ongoing water crisis in India, emphasizing the urgent need for sustainable water management and equitable distribution to address the challenges faced by marginalized communities during periods of scarcity.
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