Barmer's Kalyanpur village tides over its water woes by opting for rationing.

Luna Ram holds a very responsible job. He is well respected too and much sought after. He is the Tanka Inspector of the village. That means he holds the key to their water woes.

In Kalyanpur village of Barmer, one of the most parched and barren districts of Rajasthan, the villagers have found a solution to their water woes in water rationing. There are no fights over water distribution, no quarrels over breaking the queues or attempts at snatching other people's share of water.

There is a fixed monthly allocation of a 4,000 litre tanker to each family of four-five members. But it is not free. One has to pay Rs 250 for it to the Tanka Inspector, who is also the cashier for the purpose. For additional requirements, another supply is permissible only after the inspector physically verifies the ‘genuine' need in a particular household. One has to submit an aarji (application) at 8 a.m. in the morning and deposit the fee to get the tanker. One is given a due receipt after proper entry in the water ration card and register.

Until a few years ago, Kalyanpur, 150 kms from Barmer district headquarter, hardly had any regular resources of potable water. The lone village pond used to dry up soon and could cater to the needs only during the monsoon months or little after that. Due to the proximity of the Pachpadra salt lake, most of the dug wells have salty water and therefore, not suitable for drinking purposes.

The Baglop Baira (dug well) now stands as the most coveted treasure of Kalyanpur village. The villagers constructed the same with a collection of Rs 7 lakh six years ago. The Jalsabha Kalyanpur (water community) revived the Bagop Talab (pond) with the help of Jal Bhagirathi Foundation headed by the former Jodhpur royal Gaj Singh in 2008. The community contributed Rs 50,000, while the Foundation provided financial assistance of around Rs 1.68 lakh for revival of the scheme, in the vicinity of which the Baglop Baira has been dug.

It is a blessing in the barren zone for its water is very sweet and light, devoid of fluoride or other contaminations. The community knows and has understood the value of this water reserve they have been fortunate to get. No other neighbouring villages have been so lucky in having a source like this. They have to depend on water supply through govt. tankers since the water pipeline may take a few more years to get operational.

With scanty rainfall and depleting ground water table in Kalyanpur and for that matter in the whole Barmer district, the village community decided to use the available water with extreme care and wisdom. The Baglop Baira Samiti came into existence and the committee laid down rules after assessing needs of the 1,100 families in Kalyanpur, said Loon Chand, secretary of the committee.

The Baira was constructed through public participation and the water rationing system also is being run successfully by the committee. The dug well has the capacity to supply 40,000 litres of water every day, he said. Kalyanpur has made a mark for using best water practices. It was also featured in Jal Bhagirathi's 2010 calendar.

Kalyanpur falls in Balotara block of the district, falling in the over exploited category of ground water index. The border district famous for its vast stretches of sand dunes and scattered population has only the Barmer block in safe category. Of the eight blocks, two--Chohtan and Sindari-- fall under critical category. The remaining blocks fall under overexploited category. Therefore, conservation of available ground water resources is crucial for sustainable availability.

Dola Ram, Kalyanpur Sarpanch feels the idea of water distribution through ration is well appreciated by all villagers. Earlier, they had to get a tanker from the city, which was an expensive affair. Water rationing was perhaps the most simple and effective way of catering to the drinking water needs of local residents.

Keywords: water rationingBarmer

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