Drought has hit Maharashtra hard but drought-like conditions prevail in neighbouring states as well. The situation in Chhattisgarh’s Mahasmund district is quite the same.
In a village called Bharatpara of the Bagbahara block of the district, there are three small ponds but all three are dry. The local administration installed seven handpumps in the area yet none of them provides adequate supply of water.
Frustrated, a family of seven in a village called Bharatpara decided not to approach the administration for help and instead find (in this case, dig) their own path.
The Manjhi family thus dug up a seven feet deep well in a single day. It is now the only source of water for the entire village but, fortunately, has adequate water for everyone.
According to Dainik Bhaskar, the decision to dig up the well was taken by the village head Mojo Manjhi. His family took up the otherwise excruciating task without the use of modern equipment and finished it in record time.
Their efforts remind us of Bapurao Tajne, the Dalit labourer who dug up a well in 40 days working alone in Kalambeshwar village in Washim district of Maharashtra.
Bharatpara is a village of 35 odd Gond Manjhi families. Like many other villages in the country, Bharatpara is yet to be touched by development.
There is a metalled road inside the village but there is no such road that would lead to the village.
There is a school but the village boasts of only one literate – a woman called Saybani.
Villagers encounter water crisis every summer but this season is particularly harsh. Though the administration tried its best to end the crisis, they failed. Ponds were deepened but they still dried up.
One big problem is the geography of the region – the valley terrain does not allow water to stay still at a place making it impossible to preserve it.
The villagers are now contemplating moving to a location near a place where availability of water is not a problem.