Struggle for Water in Villages of Mewat, Haryana
By Water Management Team
On July 7, 2012, we interviewed villagers in the district of Mewat in Haryana, India in order to assess their water situation. This video documents an example of the struggle villagers face for water in villages of Mewat.
The village of Khanpur lies in an area that has highly saline groundwater. Villagers have to buy water to survive. A water tanker travels approximately 10 km to supply water to Khanpur and each delivery costs Rs. 600-1100. Only the rich in the village can afford to construct an underground tank to store water. Those who cannot afford their own storage tanks share tanks with their neighbors. Unfortunately, this often results in disputes over the amount of water used by each.
The capacity of the delivery tankers ranges from 5,000-11,000 litres and provides water to last each household for 15-20 days. The annual household expenditure in Mewat in 2008 was a little over 10,000 rupees. Most families cannot afford to buy enough water to meet their needs. As a result, they end up using polluted, unhygienic water sources.
The video shows that villagers create small dugouts in dried up ponds in search of water. The dugouts collect sub-surface groundwater that oozes slowly from the underlying sand. Women and girls spend more than four hours per day collecting water from the dugouts. They travel to collect water early in the morning and they often return in the evening for to see if any more water has accumulated over the day. As water is in such short supply, villagers will often collect water from other people’s unattended water dugouts. In order to minimize this, some villagers ask their children to guard their dugouts during the day.
Sehgal Foundation is working with several communities in Mewat to improve their water situation. The Foundation has constructed three-tier roof water harvesting (RWH) structures in several villages. This development program also includes use of rainwater harvesting tanks at individual households, community tanks for drinking and cooking requirements, and filtration of pond water for other domestic requirements. In Khanpur village, 14 RWH systems, each with a 20,000 litre water-harvesting capacity, and a cluster water tank with 1 lakh litres capacity have been constructed. However, due to the delay in the monsoon this year, the village has yet to benefit from these interventions.
Many other villages in Mewat suffer from limited fresh water supply similar to Khanpur. These villages are in need of similar sustainable water management interventions. Sehgal Foundation would like to see its water development programs replicated in more villages across Mewat quickly. As water is a necessity for human life, water shortages in Mewat perpetuate human suffering.
Sharma, Alakh N. and Pankaj, Ashok K. “A baseline survey of Minority Concentration District of India: Mewat (Haryana)