Parched Promises: Gujarat’s ‘Nal Se Jal’ Fails Villagers in Chhotaudepur

Despite government funds flowing through the 'Nal Se Jal' scheme and other grants, the promise of water security remains elusive for Chhotaudepur villagers


Chhotaudepur : The scorching summer sun beats down on Khambhayata village in Gujarat’s Chhotaudepur district. But the thirst it quenches isn’t for the women carrying earthen pots balanced precariously on their heads. These women, instead of fetching water from taps in their homes, are trudging through farm fields, their quest – a free trickle from farmers’ borewells meant for irrigation.

The culprit? The alleged failure of the government’s ambitious ‘Nal Se Jal Yojana’ (National Jal Jeevan Mission), a scheme promising piped water supply to every rural household.

“The expenses incurred on the water facility in our village have gone to waste,” says Subhashbhai Bhil, a resident of Khambhayata. “The talati [revenue official] of Raipur gram panchayat doesn’t pay any attention to the water issues.”

Broken Promises, Parched Throats

Despite government funds flowing through the ‘Nal Se Jal’ scheme and other grants, the promise of water security remains elusive for Chhotaudepur villagers. While the administration blames receding water tables, villagers point out that borewells haven’t been deepened to access sufficient water.

“Farmers have dug their borewells deep enough to irrigate their fields, but we have to wander from field to field for our daily drinking water,” says Natubhai Bhil, another villager. “Forget about bathing and other chores.”

The plight is particularly harsh for Nishal Faliya and Mednadi Faliya, where nearly 50 households struggle with water scarcity.

“We become thirsty without water,” says a distressed villager. “If we go to private fields to fill our pots, and there’s no electricity, we have to wait for hours.”

A Flawed System?

The villagers’ frustration stems from a seemingly illogical situation. Farmers have access to water for irrigation, highlighting the potential of deeper borewells. Yet, the piped water system under ‘Nal Se Jal’ remains non-functional.

“I first irrigate my farm. Then, when electricity comes back, I extend the pipeline to provide water to the women,” explains Natubhai. “But a properly deepened tank with a three-phase connection would solve the problem. Nobody cares. Everyone just talks.”

Subhashbhai echoes this sentiment. “Borewells, motors, hand pumps, tanks, and ‘Nal Se Jal’ – all these schemes were implemented, but if we still don’t have water, what’s the point of spending all this money?”

Khambhayata’s story exposes a potential flaw in the ‘Nal Se Jal’ scheme’s implementation. While infrastructure might be built, proper maintenance, deeper water sources, and a focus on functionality seem to be missing pieces. Until these gaps are addressed, the promise of piped water will remain a mirage for parched villages like Khambhayata.