By: Vijay Samyal
Jawali: While the Himachal Pradesh government may boast of having provided drinking water to each village, in fact every house, across the state, the ground reality may be bit disturbing. In fact, in absence of government water supply, in one particular case, villagers are being forced to buy water from a private seller.
Sudra is a small village of about 40 houses falling under the Mera panchayat in Fatehpur subdivision of Kangra. A quintessential Himachali village with slate roofs and greenery around, except that there is still no drinking water supply to the village, even more than six decades after India got independence. While the village is not really remote, given that it is not very difficult to reach, the irrigation and public health department could still not locate it when hand-pumps were being drilled all over the state, even next to public and private taps. The village did get a hand-pump later, but it soon got out of order and ever since no one has turned up to repair it.
So a wise villager from Sudra found an opportunity in this and got a private hand-pump installed on his land. It, of course, came as a boon for the villagers, but at a cost and they all pay a monthly rental to the entrepreneur to use his water. Villagers Narender Singh, Vir Singh, Desh Raj, Lekh Raj, Sher Singh, Sunita Devi, Rita Devi, Surinder Singh, and in fact every person this reporter met in the village narrated a story of official apathy. Officials only visit their village to carry out surveys, they all lamented. “Nothing will ever change,” they believe.
When SDO, Fatehpur, Vishal Jaswal, was contacted, he, as any government official would do, was quick to assure that the matter would be probed. And the people’s representatives – the MP and MLA – could not be contacted despite much effort.