What Happens When Water Tankers Reach a Drought-Hit Marathwada Village

Hit by a drought for the third consecutive year in Marathwada region, villagers are facing a huge water crisis.

Beed, Maharashtra: All it took was less than a minute for neighbours to turn from being friendly to vicious. Men, women, children and senior citizens all rushed to the village square. Women began shouting and fighting with one another. Men used their elbows to push others out while older members waited on the side-likes anxiously.

The laid-back hamlet had suddenly become chaotic with desperation.

This is what happened when a water tanker reached Mangrul village in the drought-hit Marathawada region of Maharashtra. Hit by a drought for the third consecutive year, farmers are facing a huge water crisis.

"It's a desperate fight for water. We get just one tanker for a total of 2,500 people which is to be shared by two villages," village head, Gautam Tondkar explains as his voice is almost lost in the din of clanging stainless steel vessels. "And it gets worse as the tanker comes once in every five days," he adds.

Only seven per cent potable water is available in over 800 dams in the region. State Minister and lawmaker from Beed district, Pankaja Munde told NDTV admitted that the situation is "very serious".

With 50 per cent rainfall deficit this year, and almost 90 per cent of the sowing complete, farmers say that their Kharif crop is as good as lost.

Earlier, locals would escape the drought by migrating, but the saddest human face of this tragedy, are children.

11-year-old Srikrishna Dinde and his 15-year-old brother have been left behind in the village, as their parents have moved to Pune to find work.

"My brother cooks and we both do all the house work. Taking care of their buffalo and its calf, washing clothes and cleaning utensils," the soft-spoken boy murmurs clambering over the roof where the key to their home was carefully hidden away.

The opposition has been demanding that loans taken by farmers should be waived off, but the BJP-led state government insists that waivers are no solution, and is working on a long term plan for the region.