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Bundelkhand has many CMs, but no water and no power

Last updated on: February 24, 2012 08:52 IST

Bundelkhand has many CMs, but no water

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Water remains the biggest problem in Bundelkhand, coupled with power shortage and poor law and order situation, says Gyan Varma

Sitting atop a hill outside the Tala Syed shrine, Bale Khan cannot remember the last time he saw water in the Kirat Sagar Lake below. The 42-year-old caretaker of the temple notes to his grief once again that the lake is now completely dry. As a matter of fact, the residents of the area are using the river bed for farming.

This is not just the case of one district. The entire area of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh is battling with water shortage. Its farmers are anguished about lack of access to ground water when their agriculture is totally dependent on rains, which is also scarce.

Bundelkhand is facing drought for the past several years. Critically, farmers find only rocks beneath the surface -- even at a depth of 200 feet --when they try to drill borewells.

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Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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Khan recalls that "many years" have passed since he last saw the Kirat Sagar dam brimming with water. "Once, it even overflowed after the rains," he gushes. Now as the lake has gone parched, the district authorities, Khan points out, have once come to revive the dam.

"But then, they left soon after. Nobody told us anything about what they were trying to do," he says.

On its part, the government had made several plans to provide water for agriculture and consumption. This includes digging of 20,000 wells, hand-pumps, creating water bodies, checking dams and watershed management.

Even so, the plans were not executed on the ground. This, when the Union government had allocated more than Rs 900 crore for the projects. For, the state authorities have managed to utilise only a little over Rs 115 crore.

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Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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Bundelkhand has many CMs, but no water

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Even as agriculture in the region is shrinking amid power shortage, leading to unemployment, the region's law and order situation is grim.

In fact, illegal firearm has become a thriving industry with the mushrooming of many such factories. Piquantly, the ongoing assembly polls are based only on caste lines. The people are not even talking about development as an electoral issue.

Gopal Das, who works at a panchayat office in a village in Banda district, says MNREGA has helped people, enabling stopping some of them to migrate to Delhi, Punjab or Haryana to look for work.

"But, that is not enough," he says. "There is no guarantee of work."

The only option other than small-scale farming, Das says, is to work as a daily-wage labourer in the mines. Most people in Bundelkhand have land, but there is no water. As for the power situation, "most of the days we are without electricity for some 16-17 hours".

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Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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Bundelkhand has many CMs, but no water

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Quite a few people in the region boast that constituencies like Thindwari and Fatehpur had made V P Singh the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

"He later went on to be become the prime minister," notes one of them. "But, still there is no comfort in our life."

Given the plight, Hari Shankar, a small-scale farmer, finds it ironical that the BSP has been in power for the last five years and Thindwari was the first seat where party leader Mayawati won in the state.

"We have many political leaders who have become chief ministers, but none of them have done anything for the area," says the peasant, who also runs a tea stall on the highway between Banda and Mahoba.


Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters

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