Villagers pool money to lay pipes for potable water in J-K's Doda

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Bhaderwah (J&K), Jan 24 (PTI) Claiming neglect over the past seven decades, the villagers in remote Thanhala Panchayat in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district have set out on a mission this winter to bring potable water to their homes.

To fulfil their objective, the mostly below poverty line (BPL) families of the snow-bound village in the lap of mighty Ashapati Glacier got into a hurdle recently and decided to contribute Rs 40,000 to purchase the required water pipes to get connected to the nearest water source.

“We are living by the example of the proverb 'God helps those who help themselves' as the government had miserably failed to ensure tap water in our homes over the years. In the absence of the facility, we have to fetch water round-the-year from a nearby source even during this harsh winter and the lurking threat of avalanches,” a local resident Aijaz Ahmad said.

About 30 families live in the village bordering Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, just 1.5 km from the interstate Bhaderwah-Chamba road. The villagers depend on the labour work in Bhaderwah town for a living.

Despite 'Har Ghar Nal Yojna' under 'Jal Jeevan Mission', villagers claim that none of the households are connected with the piped water supply.

When contacted, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Bhaderwah, Rakesh Kumar said that providing potable water to every household is the priority of the government.

“The area being rich in natural water resources, I will take up the issue with the concerned department of 'Jal Shakti Vibhag' Bhaderwah to make temporary arrangements to provide piped water to the village in view of extreme cold wave conditions unless permanent gravity line is laid under Jal Jeevan Mission,” he said.

To this, Ahmed said, 'I just earn Rs 400 a day from the labour work and with great difficulty, I try to make both ends meet. But to save the lives of our womenfolk who risk their lives every day to collect the water in extreme weather conditions, I have been contributing half of my earnings every day since last one month to buy plastic pipes.' Talib Hussain, another resident, said they literally ran from pillar to post to get piped water supply but no one listened to their woes.

“Under these circumstances, we have no other option but to pool money from our daily wages to bring water to our homes,' he said.

The womenfolk, especially girl students, seem to be the worst sufferers as they have to risk their lives every day amid winters to collect water from the bottom of Ashapati Glacier which is prone to frequent snow avalanches.

'My father and elder brother are labourers and under these circumstances this has become a tradition for girls to collect water for their respective families. This is the story of every household here and because of this, none of the girls from our village has studied beyond Class 8,' Aiza Bano (13) said.

She hoped that their lives would become better once they start getting the potable water at their homes. PTI CORR TAS HDA