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Meet Kasturi: ‘The Lady Manjhi’ who dug 25-feet deep well in parched Bundelkhand, UP

Living in the forest was a struggle, the only source of water nearby was a jhir (oozing water from rocks) that involved the collection of water drop by drop, said Kasturi

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(Representational Image) Image Source: Parched land
  • Kasturi, ‘The Lady Manjhi’ dug a well for 40 families after they were denied the access to a hand-pump by her upper-caste neighbours
  • It took her almost five years to dig the well completely
  • Living in forest was again a struggle, the only source of water nearby was a jhir (oozing water from rocks) that involved the collection of water drop by drop

Remember the chills you had when you first got to know about Dasaratha Boater ‘Mountain Man’ aka ‘Manjhi’ who alone with hammer and chisel cut to a street cast in high mountains! Here’s another story of strong will and impeccable strength that made a tribal woman dig a well almost single-handedly in the dried up area of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh.

Meet Kasturi, ‘The Lady Manjhi’ who dug a well for 40 families after they were denied the access to a hand-pump by her upper-caste neighbours.

Talking about the daily struggle she and the other families went through to get even a single pot of drinking water, Kasturi said, “We are tribals and lived in Duddhi village. But we were not allowed to use the hand-pump by the upper caste residents. Arranging for a pot of drinking water was an everyday battle we had to face for the quest of survival,” reported TOI.

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It took her almost five years to dig the well completely. Speaking to TOI Kasturi iterated, “I told my sons that I will move to another place. In a few days, I made a hut near a forest area.”

In spite of being criticised by her sons and being constantly ridiculed by the villagers, Kasturi never gave up.

Living in the forest was again a struggle, the only source of water nearby was a jhir (oozing water from rocks) that involved the collection of water drop by drop.

Activist Amit Soni, who works for the Saharia tribe to which Kasturi belongs, said, “This was not a permanent source and often an entire day was needed to collect a pot of water.”

Initially, she would dig at different places but couldn’t succeed. She would often think of giving up but then had no other option.

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However, in January she was joined by her sons, daughter-in-law and daughter and by April almost 40 families joined her.

“In the mid of June, 25 feet deep well was ready but there was no water. Still, we decided to dig it further thinking that rain water would be conserved during monsoon. However, a week later, we hit a rock and water oozed out,” she added ecstatically.

– prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff writer at NewsGram. Twitter:  iBulbul_

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PM Narendra Modi Launches Plan to Tackle Water Shortage in India

Modi Unveils Plan to Tackle Water Shortages in India's Heartland States

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PM Modi
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session in New Delhi, India. VOA

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a 60-billion-rupee ($842 million) plan to tackle water shortages in the country’s seven heartland states where agriculture is a mainstay.

India, the world’s second-most populous country, faces the worst long-term water crisis in its history as demand outstrips supply, threatening farm output and overall economic growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Almost every sector of the $2.6 trillion economy is dependent on water, especially agriculture, which sustains two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people.

“Water shortages in the country not only affect individuals and families; the crisis also has an effect on India’s development,” Modi said. “We need to prepare the new India to deal with every single aspect of the crisis.”

The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water and boost overall availability in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states, which produce staples such as rice, wheat, sugar and oilseeds.

PM Narendra Modi
The plan launched by Modi would help replenish ground water. Wikimedia Commons

India is the world’s leading producer of an array of farm goods, and nearly 60% of the irrigation for agriculture comes from ground water, mainly through electric water pumps. Subsidised electricity gives farmers an incentive to pump out more water, a key reason behind fast-depleting water tables in the vast country.

Supplying clean drinking water to millions of poor people and reviving moribund irrigation projects were a key part of Modi’s policies for India, where the monsoon accounts for nearly 70% of the annual rains needed to water farms and recharge aquifers and reservoirs.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

Drinking water is also an issue, as about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress, according to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a think tank chaired by Modi.

According to UK-based charity WaterAid, about 163 million people in India — roughly 12% of the population — do not have access to clean water close to home.

Also Read- 45% Indians Feel that Enough Steps are Not Taken for Women’s Safety: Survey

Every summer water shortages tend to be more acute in large cities such as the capital New Delhi, Chennai — a car-making center dubbed “India’s Detroit”, and Bengaluru, the country’s software capital.

Modi also exhorted farmers to increasingly adopt drip and sprinkler irrigation and use water-management techniques as well as eschewing water-guzzling crops such as rice and sugar cane. (VOA)