Lack of water has resulted in poor sanitation, hygiene in Deshnoor village

Once self-sufficient in water, Deshnoor, a village in Bailhongal taluk, has seen a drastic drop in the water table in the last four years. The depletion took place after a large number of underground pits were drilled to study the feasibility of mining uranium in Deshnoor and nearby villages, said Ashok Ningangouda Patil, vice-president of the gram panchayat. However, when it was found that there was only low amounts of uranium deposit, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) discontinued exploration in the village, and moved on to other villages nearby, he said.

Three years ago, there were 18 borewells, which were dug by the gram panchayat, and more than 100 private borewells in the village. Of the 18 panchayat borewells, only 10 yielded water; the others dried up owing to poor rainfall during the last three years, said the Executive Officer of the Bailhongal Taluk Panchayat. Now, village residents said, only two borewells had water. Two tankers have been pressed into service to supply drinking water to some areas.

The village has a population of 7,000 and over 500 cattle. The worst affected locality is Sukha Nagar on the hilly terrain, which has a predominately Muslim population, with 2,000 residents. Some families have to trek far for a pot of water.

As the summer is at its peak and the monsoon still weeks away, the residents have become apprehensive that water yield from the two borewells could dwindle further.

The shortage of water has resulted in several other problems; women have to travel long distances to wash clothes; the men and children have to go far to take bath. But, the worst off is the sanitation in the area. The villages stinks, and the drainage lines are blocked in Momin Galli. Panchayat workers are not willing to clear the blockage, said the former panchayat president Abasab Malangsab Peerzade. He added that Deshnoor was known to have the worst roads in the entire taluk.

There is no sign that the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, aimed at bringing total sanitation in rural areas, has touched even one household here. The panchayat has submitted three proposals on finding a permanent solution to solve the drinking water shortage. It has suggested drawing water from Markandey project across the Markandey, or from Harinala project in Tigadi of Bailhongal taluk; or pump water from an open well close to the water tank on the outskirts of the village.

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil visited the village on Saturday and promised residents that he would find a permanent solution to the drinking water problem within two months, and advised the gram panchayat to take up development works and improve roads and sanitation.

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