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The Free Press Journal

An initiative taken up by two organisations along with a grassroot NGO have come to the aid of 18 parched villages with a total population of over 12,000 in Mokhada, nearly 135 kms away from Mumbai. Almost one-tenth of the total population of Mokhada Tehsil has managed to get a temporary solution to their water woes.

After reading the plight of villages in Mokhada facing water scarcity in the Free Press Journal last month, Project Rise, an initiative by members of Dawoodi Bohra community and NamMyohoDaan & Phool Versha Foundation have sponsored water tankers to these 18 villages in coordination with local NGO Diganta Swaraj Foundation (DSF).

Under the two separate initiatives by two different foundations, each of these 18 villages are now getting 6000 litres of water every day.

‘It was really disheartening to know how the tribal populations in Palghar district and other interiors of Maharashtra are struggling to get enough water to drink, let alone maintaining hygiene and washing hands regularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The water tanker project in Mokhada is an extension of our already running malnutrition programme and water security projects in the slums and tribal areas of Palghar, Pavel, Roha, Govandi and the Yavatmal region,’ said Yusuf Hakimuddin, a spokesperson from Project Rise, which has been instrumental in providing water to worst affected Dapti village, having a population of 435 people.

Dapti is a small hamlet in Aase Gram, Mokhada. Currently, the villagers are not getting any water. They have to dig pits in search of water. They go to the neighbouring villages to get water. However, they manage to get only some leftover water. Due to scarcity of water, the people of Dapti prioritise water usage for cooking and drinking at the expense of cleanliness and hygiene. Their livestock suffer as well.

While Dapti has got some relief thanks to Project Rise, the NamMyohoDaan & Phool Versha Foundation have been providing water via tankers to the remaining 17 villages since May 21.

Social distancing, nationwide lockdown all these rules take a backseat in the 59 revenue villages in Mokhada. As soon as the water tankers arrive, villagers queue to get water defying social distancing norms. However, with the additional water supply coming in, things have changed a bit.

‘We are really thankful to the Dawoodi Bohra community members and the NamMyohoDaan & Phool Versha Foundation for coming forward to resolve the water crisis even during the Coronavirus outbreak. In Mokhada we at the Diganta Swaraj Foundation (DSF) are working to look for a permanent solution to the water crisis faced by the villages every year right from January. Villagers use water from rivers which are used by cattles, travel 2 to 5 km to fetch water when their wells dry up, dig pits to look for water. We need to rid them of this crisis as soon as possible,’ said Shraddha Shringarpure, founder of DSF, dedicated towards the development of tribal communities.

‘It is good that villages are getting additional water tankers, it is a huge relief and support even to us. Also, it has rained a bit in the region so water, for the next one week at least, has been stored. We are assisting the villages in all possible ways,’ said an official from the Tehsildar office.

About Mokhada and its water crisis.

Mokhada, an impoverished tribal tehsil in Palghar district located just 135 km from Mumbai, has been particularly hit hard since January, depending almost entirely on water tankers.

The Upper Vaitarna dam is barely 35 km from Mokhada but supplies a substantial portion of its water to Mumbai. About 28 percent of Mumbai’s daily water supply — 1,000 million litres out of 3,600 — is met through supplies from the upper and lower Vaitarna dams. While the Wagh river also sails through the region, villagers say that in the absence of measures to tap its water, much of it goes wasted.

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