Doda women brave avalanches, wild animals to fetch water

Collecting potable water is a matter of life and death for the residents of Ganori village, located around eleven kilometers from Kahara block in Doda district. Putting their lives at risk, women of the area brave the threat of snow avalanches and wild animals simultaneously to collect water from the lone natural source, which is two kilometers from the village and is situated in a dense forest right beneath the snow-peaked mountains.

With the concerned department and local administration failing to provide potable water to the villagers, the natural fountain is the only source of respite for the locals.

Nearly 100 families living on the slopes of three hamlets of Kahara tehsil, including Ganori, Kuthal and Naik Mohalla, claime that they have been without piped water despite several centrally sponsored schemes, especially aimed to provide drinking water in rural areas. This has resulted in them facing numerous social and economic issues, beside exposing them and their livestock to the threat of snow avalanches and increasing attacks by wild animals, they said.

Pertinently, four villagers, including a woman, had a narrow escape after they were buried under snow while collecting water from the lone natural source around 6 years ago. “I, along with three other villagers, was collecting water when suddenly snow came down from the adjoining hill, burying all of us. Luckily, help arrived on time and were rescued from underneath the snow after 4 hours. Kulsuma Begum of Ganori village said, adding, “I still have nightmares and shiver with fear, whenever I think of that incident. Six years have passed, but I still am forced to visit the same spot everyday to collect the water.”

18-year-old Raveesa Bano, another resident of Ganori, said, “We live under constant danger. We defy possible death every day as we brave the dual threat of snow avalanches and wild animals. Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and open defecation free (ODF) slogans sound good, but for us, fetching water is still the prime issue.”

Shah Nawaz Mir, panchayat member of Ganori-Kusharthawa, said, “Despite several pleas to political representatives and civil administration, nothing has been done to provide piped water to out villages.”

On being contacted, sub-disvisional magistrate, Thathri, Mohammad Anwar Banday, said, “This is a very serious issue as we are bound to provide basic amenities to every villager. Besides, providing healthy drinking water is our top priority.”

He added, “I will send a team of engineers of the concerned department to conduct a survey and as soon as the snow melts, we will start installation of pipes on war footing.”

Pertinently, on March 30, an employee of public health engineering department was killed and 2 of his colleagues were seriously injured when they came under a snow avalanche while restoring water supply in Kot-Bhanecha area, only a couple of miles away from Ganori village.