People forced to fetch water from distant places
You have a choice – between buying bottles of mineral water or a cola, else settle for contaminated water if you are a resident of the Komatikuntla village of the Putlur mandal of the Anantapur district.
Call it the success of capitalism or failure of the State, but you can get bottled water or liquor easily, although a costly affair, than drinking water in this village.
The major activity in the village which has around 400 houses and close to 3,000 people, is fetching water for drinking and daily use.
Komatikunta village, which was once a village known for its quality sweet lime sent exported to markets as far away as Nagpur and Chennai and beyond; is today a village of water seekers. The village suffers from unfathomably acute water shortage.
“This is our only job. Our day finishes at 1 a.m. in the night very often to ensure that all our pots are filled”, says Bathyala Narsamma of the Komatikuntla village, even as she curses the men of the village for not being able to do anything to better the situation.
Narsamma is but one of the many women who line up their pots to get water at community water pump, where a 10 HP motor draws water in two narrow threads, an indication of the extremely sorry levels of ground water in the village. “It takes more than 10 minutes for a pot to be filled and often the last of the pots in the line can be filled only around midnight or the next day,” says Narsamma.
The village has been drought-hit for the last 10 years but never had to put up with a water crisis of the current magnitude. Almost every man and woman in the village is engaged in the sole activity of ferrying water from known water sources, very few, the nearest of them being 6 k.m. away.
The Rural Water Supply Department, as short sighted as the government and the administration itself has spent crores on drinking water schemes for Komatikuntla and surrounding villages based on ground water, only to fail time and again.
Testament to this fact is the now defunct drinking water scheme established at a cost of Rs. 360 lakhs by building a pump house in the Chitravati river to draw under ground water. The scheme went defunct within six months.
And if you are thinking Komatikuntla is a one-off village facing such sort of acute water shortage in rainy season, which has seen almost all rivers overflow beyond their capacity; make amends, for there are 300 more such villages in Anantapur district.
While the above is only the official figure, the actual ground reality might well exceed that. The situation in the district is so bad that no single mandal in the district can boast of not having villages facing acute shortage of water.
Speaking to The Hindu, a social activist and member of the Manava Hakkula Vedika, who has widely studied the situation said – “There is not a drop of water in these villages. This is not a metaphorical statement but a truth in literal physical meaning of the term”. He might well be true.