Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh: The authorities in Tikamgarh, drought-ravaged Madhya Pradesh's Bundelkhand region, have been forced to employ armed guards to check farmers of neighbouring Uttar Pradesh from 'stealing' drinking water from Bari Ghat Dam.
Vijay Shankar Trivedi, Chief Municipal Officer, Tikamgarh told NDTV: "We have water left only in Bari Ghat Dam, which has a catchment area of 6-7kms and we have a daily requirement of 5 MLD. So to stop farmers from using it for irrigation we have hired two gunmen."
The civic authorities in Tikamgarh district say Jamuniya River - which flows from Uttar Pradesh and merges in Kain river in Madhya Pradesh separates the two states - is the only source of drinking water for over one lakh people in the area.
"Farmers from Uttar Pradesh in the night come and try to open the gates of the dam to get water. We stop them. They have tried attacking us but have not been successful. They are scared of guns," says Bahadur Singh Yadav, an armed guard.
As per the agreement, Madhya Pradesh receives 17 per cent of the stored water in Jamuniya Dam in Uttar Pradesh, which has about 2.5 crore litres of water.
Madhya Pradesh stores this water in five dams including Bari Ghat Dam but as the drought worsened in the region, water in the Harpura, Charpuva, Madiya and Sudan dam has dried up.
The authorities in Madhya Pradesh allege that the farmers from Uttar Pradesh "steal" water from these dams for irrigation and therefore the dams have dried up quickly. And that is the why the Bari Ghat dam is being closely guarded.
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh are opposing the presence of armed men in the area.
Bharose Kushwaha says," The officials from Madhya Pradesh came in big number and roughed me up and told me I am stealing water and then damaged my water pump."
However, Madhya Pradesh administration denies manhandling of farmers but accepts they removed pipelines illegally drawing water.