Andhra Pradesh

Parched A.P. village saved by 300-year-old stepwell

 Women walk miles to collect water from a centuries-old open well at Mylacherla in Prakasam district.

Women walk miles to collect water from a centuries-old open well at Mylacherla in Prakasam district.

Yadamma, a frail 70-year-old with an unsteady gait, wakes up at dawn and sets out toward the outskirts of Mylacherla village, located in the western part of Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district.

This is not her morning constitutional. The long trek leads her to the only one open well in the area, dug some three centuries ago, from where she barely manages to get one pot of drinking water.

Four years of drought

Water scarcity has become acute following the fourth consecutive year of drought in the Chandrasekharapuram mandal of Prakasam district. Yadamma is one among the scores of women who undertake the exhausting walk to the well, the only source of drinking water in the fluoride-affected mandal. The World Bank-funded ₹17-lakh drinking water scheme in the village has long gone dry.

Locals say the well is an architectural marvel built by the ‘Gandi brothers’, both cattle farmers, at a place in the Nallamalla forests, as suggested by a seer from Bhairavakona. Another old woman, Tiupatamma, says, “There used to be plenty of water in the well when I was a girl. But it is no longer so.”

“Despite the odds, we do not want to leave the village as we will not be able to survive elsewhere,” says another villager Dora Tirumalaiah. “All that we need is a navigable road to take our farm produce to the market, and a new drinking water scheme in place of the defunct one.” He adds that they stopped rearing cattle now as they are not in a position to sell milk with no collection centre close to their village.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2022 7:46:18 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/parched-ap-village-saved-by-300-year-old-stepwell/article23600146.ece