Dehra Dun : Jaingaon and Bhatgoan are twin villages in Yamkeshwar block of Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. Till a decade back, the men folk of the villages would go to Chaur about a kilometer away for bathing while the women would go there with their ‘bantas’ (large brass water containers) to bring water for the household chores. It had knee deep water.
The water came through an underground sourse, which the villagers had divided into four parts. While one was meant for women to fill their ‘bantas’, two were for the men folk to bathe, which in their absence were utilized by the women to fill water, or when there were a number of women to fill water, the men would conveniently allow them to fill their ‘bantas’. The fourth was for the ‘doms’ of the scheduled castes of the villages.
Sadly the water source has dried up and as old-time residents revisit the villages, they recall with nostalgia the fun-filled moments at the water spot. Now though the government claims to have provided potable water on tap to the villages, the truth is that there is just one tap each in the two villages through which water rarely is available. Now, the men folk have to go deeper down to another stream to bathe and women to fetch water in their ‘bantas’.
The truth is that Jaingaon and Bhatgoan are not the only two villages in Uttarakhand where natural water sources are drying up, but it is happening in almost all the villages. According to rough estimates as many as 17,000 natural water sources in this small mountain state have either dried up or are in the process of drying up, a grim reminder of the deteriorating water situation in the villages.
While Jaingaon and Bhatgoan are a mere three hours drive from the state capital, where the situation has reached such alarming stages, one can but wonder what the scenario will be in the villages located in the far flung hinterlands of this mountain state. It is no wonder that villages are getting deserted and the once lush agricultural fields are getting barren as villagers migrate to plains in search of not only greener pastures but minimum basic facilities.
The dynamiting for roads, and for the construction of various hydel power projects in Uttarakhand are said to be responsible for the drying up of the natural water sources. The large number of water falls that one saw and where long route buses stopped so that the passengers could quench their thirst have also become a rare sight.
Meanwhile drinking water resources minister Mantri Prasad Naithani threw the blame on the central government for the deteriorating situation. He said that the state government had asked the centre to give it Rs 3600 crores to augment the various drinking water resources in the state, but it had been given just Rs 900 crores, which was barely sufficient to undertake the huge task.
He said that the funds which had been made available would be utilized to improve the condition of the existing natural water sources, plants trees that would help in conserving water and to tap new sources to supply water to the villages in the interiors.
A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand).
Jagdish had worked with India’s leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards
Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.