Women, children trek miles in summer heat to get water near Mumbai - GulfToday

Women, children trek miles in summer heat to get water near Mumbai


India ranks among the world's most water-stressed nations, the World Bank says. Reuters

Women and children in a hamlet near India's financial capital used buckets to draw water from a well before pouring it through strainers into vessels and other receptacles for the journey home.

The scene unfolding during a recent visit by Reuters to the area, just 150km (93 miles) from Mumbai, plays out every summer morning, after residents have trekked more than a mile to fetch water from a dried-up well filled each day by tankers.

Indiawater-PoorIndian A woman helps a girl balance pots filled with water, in Telamwadi near Mumbai on Tuesday. Reuters

Even though their homes are not far from a dam that provides water to the metropolis, villagers say supplies run short from March to May every year, when temperatures can run as high as 40˚C, before monsoon rains bring respite in June.

"All the water is sent to Mumbai, we are left with nothing," said Ashok Shinde, whose village is home to about 700 people rearing poultry and livestock. "The government encourages us to breed animals but what will we give them to drink if we don’t have any water to drink ourselves?"

Drinkingwater-Indianpoor Women walk back home balancing pots of water as other women walk towards a well to fill their pots in Telamwadi. Reuters

The Vaitarna dam, which supplies water to Mumbai, is just 50km (31 miles) from Telamwadi, but is not linked to it.


India ranks among the world's most water-stressed nations, the World Bank says, with just 4% of global water resources, despite being the world's most populous, accounting for 18% of global population.

Authorities in India's richest state of Maharashtra, home to both the village and Mumbai, say they expect to finish work by next summer on an alternative source of supply for Telamwadi.

Tubewell-Indiawater A drone view of a well as women draw water from it in Telamwadi. Reuters 

"Until the permanent solution is in place, we are providing water tankers to ensure residents do not face issues," state water supply officials told Reuters.

Water for Telamwadi and nearby settlements will eventually come from a dam on another river, the Bori, the officials added, adding that water would flow to the area naturally as the dam was located at a higher altitude.

Until then, residents will have to depend on daily tanker supplies arranged by the government in summer, when the well, about 2km (1 mile) away, dries up completely.

Tubewell-India Suman Bhutambare attempts to climb out of a well after climbing in to retrieve a friend's sieve that fell inside in Telamwadi. Reuters 

"We use a strainer to make sure no solid waste goes in," said one of the villagers, Suman Bhutambare. But when the implements sometimes fall in, someone must clamber in and descend a harrowing 15 feet to 20 feet (5 yards to 7 yards) to retrieve them.

One of the women usually makes the precarious journey, relying on numerous cracks in the walls to provide support.

"It's very risky, as there’s a chance of slipping and falling," Bhutambare added.



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