Priyanka Singh| TNN |
- Of over 10,000 residents of Gusiyari, only about 3,000 are registered voters
- lmost 80% population is Muslim while rest comprise upper caste Hindus and dalits
- The village has over 30 wells and 72 handpumps but all of them yield saline water
The well in Gusiyari which is the only source of water for villagers. (Photo: Priyanka Singh)
For the past 30 years, political parties have been asking for votes on assurance of water supply to Gusiyari but no development is visible so far. A villager Sagheer Ahmad said, “Our biggest problem is just another decorative agenda on the parties’ manifesto. No one has ever understood our plight. Almost all candidates promise us water supply but once they come to power they never show up.”
Of over 10,000 residents of Gusiyari, only about 3,000 are registered voters. Almost 80% population is Muslim while rest comprise upper caste Hindus and dalits. The village has over 30 wells and 72 handpumps but all of them yield saline water, unfit for consumption. It is the only well located 4km away from Gusiyari that has potable water, as it is irrigated by the nearby rainfed Shyam River.
With just one well around, it is a struggle every time to fetch water from this source. Another villager Sakeena said, “It is common to see people fighting near the well over who would fetch first. There is so much consumption from the well that its level reduces by night, so everyone is in a rush. Girls have to visit the well 12-13 times a day to get water.”
Such has been the struggle for water in the past that villagers have formed a community-based hierarchy to decide who would fetch water first. Muslims being in more in number have been allowed to fetch water from the well anytime. Brahmins can also draw water anytime and have got two ghats (one fourth of the area) reserved for themselves. Dalits, however, are entitled to get water only during afternoon. Further, Muslims and Brahmins draw water from the well and give it to Dalits.
Kalli, a dalit woman, said, “We visit the well only in the afternoon and cannot draw water on our own. What welfare are we taking about when we get water on the basis of our religion and caste?”
However, Muslims and Brahmins in the area claim that there is no communal disharmony and the arrangement for fetching water has been made with the consent of all the communities to avoid disputes.