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Mathuranpura & Mahoba: World’s worst water starved places reflecting worsening drought situation in North India

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Mathuranpura, a particularly poor neighbourhood in Mahoba, one of India’s 250 poorest districts is home to 1,000 dalits and where few things are as exclusionary as access to water.

None of the 1,000 dalits who live in mostly mud-and-thatch homes have regular jobs (the majority are construction workers), there is no school in the neighbourhood and none of their homes has piped water.

On June 23, three months after bountiful but unseasonal rains destroyed crops and imperilled farming – as we reported earlier – Mathuranpura’s dalits went to the district magistrate, Vireshwar Singh, with a petition: Give us a water pipeline.

A year ago, a water pipeline was laid, a group of Mathuranpura residents told Khabar Lahariya. It stopped at the house of the panchayat (council) chairman, who, they alleged, did not allow the pipeline to be extended to their mohalla, or neighbourhood.

So dire is the crisis in this water-starved district that locals sometimes dig tunnels some distance from their villages to collect water seeping from the ground, their main source of water, Khabar Lahariya previously reported.

It is a reflection of a quietly, worsening groundwater situation, not just in Mahoba – 240 km southeast of the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow – but across northern India. The situation has been given little attention by the government or media. As a column in The Guardian pointed out, when water is overused or unavailable, it takes only poor management to plunge a region into crisis.

Mahoba’s crisis came rapidly, when its once plentiful water sources were polluted or otherwise devastated (as we shall see later). Mathuranpura’s water source is a handpump, which yields little water. The locals said their “arms were exhausted” working it and they were tired queuing up day and night. The water reduces, and the waits get longer. So, they want that pipeline.

District magistrate Singh said he has taken the petition with “some seriousness” and in the presence of Khabar Lahariya reporters, ordered the water department to lay a pipeline to Mathuranpura.

If this happens, Mathuranpura should consider itself lucky. No more than 7 percent of Mahoba district’s people have a drinking-water source at home or in their compounds, according to census data.

In rural Mahoba, 95.3 percent of people have no access to tap water from a treated source; although more than 30 percent of village households have access to tap water.

Mathuranpura and Mahoba’s situation is not unusual in India, where 22.2 percent of rural households get their drinking water from a source that is at least half a kilometre away from home. More than 116 million Indian households in villages cannot access water from a tap. Only 7 percent households have drinking water sources within their compound in the villages of Mahoba district.

It will be ever more difficult to supply those households with water because more than half of India now faces what is called “high” to “extremely high” water stress. Across parts of northern India, skyrocketing demands on water for agriculture and growing populations have pushed groundwater to levels more critical than anywhere else on earth.

The situation is as grim on the Gangetic plains, and a variety of studies reveal a common trend.

After the winter deluge, a great water scarcity has fallen across Mahoba, indicating the vagaries of life without an assured supply of water.

Despite being known as the land of talaabs, or ponds, the access to drinking water supply is limited. Most of these large and beautiful water bodies are now dirty and badly maintained. There has been no work or special schemes that may make the water potable. In Charkhari block, which has seven large taalaabs, several homes are now served by domestic drainage, but the drains empty into a pond.

The major river in Mahoba, Chandrawal, first showed signs of drying up a decade ago, but a drought in 2008 was the final blow. Efforts are being made to revive the river only now.

Even as groundwater levels drop, Mahoba – and northern India – has no option but to continue with the effort to supply drinking water, whether piped in from rivers or from groundwater sources, such as borewells and lakes.

The budget for fiscal 2015-16 has been earmarked Rs 11,000 crore for the centrally-sponsored National Rural Drinking Water Programme – now a part of the Swachh Bharat (clean India) mission – launched in 2007 to provide safe drinking water to 116 million deprived households in India’s villages. Delhi provides financial assistance to states and union territories for drinking water projects and water-quality testing.

But no funds have been released this year to Mahoba, so far.

With funding from Delhi declining because of financial devolution-the process of handing over money to the states to do their own spending-it is uncertain what lies ahead for Mahoba.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. This story has been produced in partnership with Khabar Lahariya, a rural, weekly newspaper run by a collective of female journalists from five districts in Uttar Pradesh and one in Bihar. Each district has its own edition, brought out in the local language of the district.

(With inputs from IANS)

 

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Achieving Goal of “Swachh Bharat” Will Be True Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi: Ram Nath Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind

New Delhi, Oct 1, 2017: Urging cleanliness be made a national movement, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Sunday that achieving the goal of “Swachh Bharat” will be true tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.

Kovind, who is currently in Maharashtra on an official tour, will visit Gujarat, the home state of Gandhi on his birth anniversary to pay tributes to the Father of the Nation.

On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, the President said that Gandhi Jayanti is an occasion to rededicate to the ideals and values of Mahatma Gandhi, who believed that ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’.

“Cleanliness is not only the responsibility of sanitation personnel and government departments. Today, India is fighting a decisive battle for cleanliness and hygiene through the ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ campaign.

“Let us also commit ourselves to ensuring public hygiene, personal hygiene and environmental hygiene. It is a multi-stakeholder national movement. Achieving the goals of the Swachh Bharat Mission expeditiously will be a true expression of tribute and regard to Gandhiji on his birth anniversary,” he said.

Also Read: Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017 

Describing Gandhi as a man of simple living and a moral preceptor, Kovind said that he gave a new direction to the country through his leadership.

“His philosophy of non-violence and peaceful co-existence is of increasing relevance in the present times. Through the symbols of Charkha, the spinning wheel and khadi, he stressed the message of self-reliance and dignity of labour,” he said.

Kovind will commence his Gujarat engagements with paying his tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his birth place, Kirti Mandir at Porbandar.

Later, he will attend a function organised by the state government to declare Open Defacation Free status for rural Gujarat at Kirti Mandir.

The President will also inaugurate various projects including upgradation of Veraval and Porbandar fishing Harbour, upgradation of Navibandar, Miyani and Salaya Fish Landing Centre, laying the stone for development of Mangrol Phase-III fishing Harbour, announcement for development of Veraval Phase-II.

He will also foundation stone of Porbandar Phase-II, Navabandar, Mandhavad and Sutrapada Fishing Harbours and inauguration of Mangrol Rural Water Supply Augmentation Scheme of 45 villages at Mangrol, an official statement said. (IANS)

 

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Anushka cleans beach for Clean India campaign

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Mumbai, Sep 29 : Actress-producer Anushka Sharma, who was nominated as a Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ambassador, has lent her support to the cleaning of a beach here.

Anushka on Friday shared a series of photographs in which she is seen cleaning the Versova beach.

“‘An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching’ – Mahatma Gandhiji. Swachh Bharat. Swachhata Hi Seva,” she captioned the image.

Earlier this month, Anushka was invited by Modi to be a part of his government’s ‘Swachhata Hi Seva’ initiative. Apart from the actress, Modi had also invited Malayalam superstar Mohanlal to be part of the movement.

On the acting front, the “NH10” actress is currently busy with her next production “Pari”.

She is also launching her clothing line which will be out on October 3.(ians)

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Actor “Prabhas” extends support to Modi’s Clean India campaign

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Prabhas extends support to Modi's Clean India campaign
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Chennai, Sep 29 : “Baahubali” fame Prabhas on Friday said he extends his full support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swachhata Hi Seva” movement, adding that he sees the Clean India campaign not as a duty but as a habit.

“As we approach this significant day, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji, who always strived for cleanliness, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the great work happening on making India clean and green with the Swachh Bharat Initiative,” Prabhas posted on his Facebook page.

Swachh Bharat: 10 easy steps that will make “clean india campaign” successful

He added that Clean India is something he personally believes in.

“Keeping my country clean and healthy is not just my duty as a citizen but also a habit. To all those who feel the same, let’s continue doing our best for a cleaner India,” he said.

Earlier this month, Modi had written personal letters to celebrities, industrialists and noted personalities to enlist their support for the initiative.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said Swachhata is for each of us to practice.

He also said the days leading up to Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 should be about “encouraging widespread participation in cleanliness initiatives across the country.”

Superstar Rajinikanth and filmmaker S.S Rajamouli have already expressed their support.(ians)