Water Crisis In Utnur Agency Of Adilabad District Alarming

A seven-member team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) visited the mandals of Indravelli, Narnoor, Jainur and Utnur in Adilabad district on April 30 and May 1, 2010 to study the ongoing water crisis in the region and the government’s response. The team visited Dhodanda and Gattepalli Kollamguda in Indravelli mandal, Sungapur, Kothapally G, Kautalaguda, Kautala Limguda and Mediguda in Narnoor mandal, Lodhiguda in Jainur mandal and Lendiguda and Narsapur villages in Utnur mandal.  

That there is a water crisis in the Utnur division of Adilabad district is a well-known fact, but what was shocking to us was the extent of its severity.  In all the villages we visited people complained of lack of water since several weeks. The hand pumps and wells had all but dried up and people were trudging several kms to get some water for their daily needs. At some places, they were purchasing water from farmers whose agricultural wells had still not gone dry. In remote villages like Lodhiguda of Jainur mandal and Lendiguda in Utnur mandal, the Adivasis had no choice but to rely on water sources in the hills which are now invariably polluted and certainly unfit for consumption. Lack of water has already led to the death of cattle in several villages. 

Even more perturbing was the poor governmental response. The protected drinking water schemes in the area are in shambles. The mini-water tanks under this scheme were functioning in just two of the 10 villages we visited and here too only a small amount of water was available to the residents. Both at Mediguda and Narsapur, the local people were purchasing water from neighbouring villages since there is not enough water in the mini-tanks. In six of the villages, the motor used to pump water to the tank from the source were in need of repair. Despite repeated appeals to concerned officials, no repair was taken up. The administration was supplying water of 20 litres per family per day only to just a few villages on the main roads but none to the others. This is nothing short of gross negligence and extreme callousness.  

HRF feels that the water crisis in the Fifth Schedule mandals of Utnur division is alarming. The government must immediately declare a water emergency and take up concrete steps and ensure that all habitations are provided adequate clean and potable water. This must be done within the timeframe of not more than a week. All bores in need of repair must be attended to and bores must be sunk as and where needed. Water must be transported to all needy habitations. Clean water is a basic human requirement and the government has a responsibility to provide it to citizens. It is shameful that this basic need has not been fulfilled by the government. All that the administration seems to be doing is drawing up contingency plans and putting out statements of intent. Very little is being done on the ground. 

What is of extreme concern is that the month of May has just begun and the coming weeks are going to be extremely hot in the district. Many of the existing mountain water sources and wells and bores which are coughing up at least a little water now will most likely go completely dry. If there is no concrete and adequate governmental intervention, the Adivasis will be forced to consume even more unclean water. This can have perilous consequences.        

We recall that in 1998, there was an outbreak of gastro-enteritis in Adilabad district, particularly in the Agency mandals which led to the death of thousands, most of them Adivasis. The immediate reason for these fatalities was lack of potable water. HRF fears that unless the government wakes up and responds on a war-footing to the ongoing water crisis, there might be a general outbreak of gastro-enteritis yet again with tragic consequences.  

Members of the HRF fact-finding team:

  • VS Krishna (HRF State general secretary)
  • Mohd Anwar (HRF State secretary)
  • P Madhavi (HRF State executive committee member)
  • N Bakkaiah (HRF Adilabad district president)
  • Atram Bhujanga Rao (HRF Adilabad district general secretary)
  • R Babulal (HRF Adilabad district vice-president)
  • Kumar Swamy (HRF Karimnagar district joint secretary)


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