Lucknow: A tribal woman in Uttar Pradesh’s parched Bundelkhand has dug a well almost single-handedly for 40 families after her upper caste neighbours denied them access to a hand-pump.
“We are tribals and lived in Duddhi village. But we were not allowed to use the hand-pump by the upper caste residents. Arranging for a pot of drinking water was an everyday battle we had to face for the quest of survival,” said Kasturi.
About five years ago, she felt she could no longer take the insult anymore. “I told my sons that I will move to another place. In a few days I made a hut near a forest area.” Even her children criticized her move to relocate. “Everyone thought that I have lost my balance. Some in fact started calling me names,” she said. “Though I was happy, the problem of drinking water persisted.” The only source of water for Kasturi was a jhir (oozing water from rocks) which involved collection of water drop by drop. “This was not a permanent source and often an entire day was needed to collect a pot of water,” said activist Amit Soni, who works for the Saharia tribe to which Kasturi belongs.
In January, she attempted again but was not alone this time. Her sons, daughters-in law and daughter joined her. “By April, about 40 tribal families were on the job. In the mid of June, a 25 feet deep well was ready but there was no water. Still we decided to dig it further thinking that rain water would be conserved during monsoon. However, a week later, we hit a rock and water oozed out.”