Fewer Drops to Drink: Bhadarwah villagers pool funds to get portable water supply

After waiting for decades for the district administration and PHE (Public Health Engineering) department now ‘Jal Shakti Vibhag’ to provide piped water supply to their village, the residents of ThanhalaPanchayat in Jammu and Kashmir’s additional district Bhadarwah pooled in funds buy pipes in order get portable water supply.

The poor daily wage labourers all of them belonging to BPL (Below Poverty Line) from the village collected Rs 40 thousands for purchasing 600 meter length pipes to connect them to the water source, from where they can tap to bring it to their village.

To get money to lay the pipes, most villagers had to sell their harvest, while a few even took advance payment from the contractors they were working with.

About 30 families live in the village in the lap of mighty Ashapati glacier, and had no piped water supply even after seven decades of Independence, causing them problems in everyday life, not to mention the miseries, particularly womenfolk have to face to collect the water during extreme cold wave conditions and constant fear of snow avalanches.

Thanhala is just 1.5 km from the interstate Bhaderwah-Chamba road and the village is the last village of Jammu and Kashmir located near Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, and the villagers depend on the labour work in nearby Bhadarwah town to make a living.

Despite ‘HarGharNalYojna’ under ‘JalJeevan Mission’, villagers claim that none of the households are connected with piped water supply.

 “I just earn @ Rs 400 a day from the labour work and with great difficulty, I try to make both ends meet. But to save the lives of our womenfolk, who risk their lives every day to collect the water in extreme weather conditions, I have been contributing half of my earnings everyday since last one month to buy plastic pipes,” said Ijaz Ahmed of Thanhala village.

 “We literally ran from pillar to post’ to get piped water supply but no one listened to our woes. Under these circumstances, we have no other option but to pool money from our daily wages as we have to save the lives of our womenfolk, who risk their lives to fetch water in the constant danger of snow avalanches,” said TalibHussain of Thanhala.

Females especially the girl students seem to be the worst sufferers as they have to risk their lives every day, especially during winters to collect water from the bottom of Ashapati glacier which is prone to frequent snow avalanches.

“My father and elder brother are labourers, under these circumstances this has become a tradition for girls to collect water for their respective families. This is the story of every household here and because of this, none of the girls from our village has studied beyond 8th standard,” said AizaBano (13) of Thanhala.

When contacted ADC BhadarwahRakesh Kumar said,”I was not aware of the problem these poor villagers are facing. To provide portable water to every household is our priority and the area being rich in natural water resources, I will take up the issue with the authorities of ‘Jal Shakti Vibhag’ Bhadarwah to make temporary arrangements to provide piped water to the village in view of extreme cold wave conditions unless permanent gravity line is laid under ‘JalJeevan Mission’.

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