Chhattarpur (Madhya Pradesh), May 28 : Water has becomes a saleable commodity in the drought hit Chhatarpur District in Madhya Pradesh, as the poverty-ridden people of the region are compelled to purchase it to quench their thirst.
The taps are running dry in Chhatarpur and people are managing their water requirements by buying water.
For a single trip, the water tanker charges 300 rupees and not many can afford to buy water at this cost. Those who are unable to pay, have to travel for over five kilometers to fetch water.
Majority of people even in urban areas cannot afford to purchase water and queue up at public places with empty containers waiting for the tankers. Many others prefer walking and cycling to far away locations to fetch water.
Frequent droughts and water crisis have become bane of the region. Residents complain that the authorities instead of evolving long-term solutions resort to makeshift arrangements every time there is a crisis.
"Water scarcity has become a grave problem in Chhattarpur region. We have to trek five kilometers to fetch water. We get tankers by paying 300 rupees and for the past two months I have been getting water from these tankers. However one tanker can only help four to five houses to supply water," said Abhishek Soni, a resident of Chhattarpur.
Even the water tanker owners pity the plight of the residents to whom they sell water at meager profits.
"It is a very terrible situation due to draught here. I supply them tankers for 300 rupees. I too have to buy water for 100 rupees and the oil cost is another 100 rupees. The driver also takes some money for his expenditure," noted Pradeep Tiwari, tanker owner.
The local authorities contend that they are trying their best to mitigate the sufferings of the people but say that it is not possible to meet the water requirements of the people at their doorsteps.
"The municipality is not able to provide water to the people at their doorstep, we have made arrangements for providing water at various public places. Those who want water at their place then they have to pay some money for the tankers," said P N Yadav, Sub Divisional Magistrate, Chhattarpur.
A drought in Bundelkhand, in which Chhatarpur falls, is beginning to take a toll on the poor villagers, who are losing their crops and livestock to water scarcity.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has announced a special relief package of rupees ten billion for the drought-affected Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh to tackle the crisis.