By Tanmay Sakalley
Bastar (Chhattisgarh) [India], February 1 (ANI): Water is life and the Jal Jeevan Mission has proved to be a boon for Naxal-affected villages of the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh. The people of this region had to drink contaminated water from river, drains and waterfall for years in the Naxal-prone, hilly region surrounded by forests. But now the Mission is providing them fresh drinking water.
These villages are situated around 50 kilometres away from the district headquarters. On the way to these villages, the ANI team covered around 10 kilometres in the hilly region. During this, the team reached Tirathgarh Gram Panchayat which is situated on the hilly area. There are about six to seven villages situated on the high hills of Tirathgarh.
After crossing the hilly road of Tirathgarh, the team reached Rengawada village where children were playing with the Anganwadi Sahika in an Anganwadi there. The villagers were grazing goats and cows. When ANI tried to talk to the Anganwadi Sahika, she only spoke the local Habli Language. The team was accompanied by a person who understands the Halbi language, translated her words to the team.
The tribal woman, Pando (around 50 years), a resident of Rengawada village said, "I was born here and I got married here. I have been watching this village closely since childhood. A few years ago, there were neither roads nor any source of water here. There were no hand pumps here, we used to travel three to four kilometres to bring water from the waterfall, from the river, from Jharia (spring)."
"Even when there was a wedding function in the house or some program took place then also we used to bring water by keeping a tanker in the vehicle. Also, the women of the village used to bring water by carrying it on their heads. There are about 15 houses in this village. The family members of all the houses in the village used to bring water from the river itself and it took a lot of time to get water," she said.
"After that the handpump has been installed here for the last three years and the water tank with solar panels (a motor has been installed in the handpump which runs on solar energy) has been installed here for the last year. Now, it has been very good after the installation of a solar water tank, we all are happy to get fresh drinking water in every house of the village," the woman added.
Another woman, Champa Thakur, who lives in Khas Para of Tirathgarh Gram Panchayat, said, "There was a lot of water problem here, but now a solar water tank has been installed and now there is no water problem in the area. The population of our gram panchayat is around 8,000. Earlier, if any program was organised here then, we had to get water from tankers from outside and we had to pay Rs 1500 for the water of a tanker."
On the other hand Bastar Collector Chandan Kumar said, "Jal Jeevan Mission is a very ambitious plan of the government and its aim is to provide clean water to every household. If we talk about Bastar district, there are 614 villages here, efforts are being made by making a project for all those villages and giving them administrative approval. There are many such villages when we talk about Bastar where there were no roads, people used to drink impure Jharia (spring) water."
"There was a big challenge in front of the government and the administration to provide pure drinking water to them. Jal Jeevan Mission is certainly proving to be a great boon for us and for the rest of the common people. There were many villages which were on the top of the mountain, there were many places where there were drains, and there were a few places where there was a problem of electricity, it was very difficult to access water there. So, the source has been created at the local level, we installed solar systems in those places where it was possible. We have given water connections where conventional electricity has reached, we have brought drinking water through electricity, we are working to supply it there and there are many villages where our projects have been completed and the people are benefited," the collector added.
When talked about reduction in health problems, he said, "If we talk about a few years ago, it was often heard that diarrhoea has spread in some villages, food poisoning has been spread in some villages or there is a problem of fluoride, iron water, etc. we did not have any sure solution to this problem but today when Jal Jeevan Mission has come to force we do not hear such issues."
"Now, we used to test the purity of the drinking water in those areas. The women are conducting the test, the testing kit is available with them and they are performing the test, they make sure the water is usable. There is a system of continuous monitoring of it and it is our goal to provide pure drinking water to the people. The problems related to health which used to be big outbreaks have now reduced," he added. (ANI)