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Monday, April 1, 2013

Tukaram Kolekar ~ the water provider to Marthwada

Tukaram Kolekar is a 70 year old man, lives in an arid region ~ seeing him, many living in the city may not even talk to him leave alone give him the respect he deserves………… he is a great man – one of the great sons of this bharat varsha.

The summer is on ~ it is getting hotter in Chennai ~ water sources are turning dry… in olden days, entire city depended on metro water to quench their thirst.. now a days, most buy packaged water that comes in so many names.  The rural scenario is a bit different.  Sad to read of reports that the worst drought in decades in the Mathwada region  has begun pushing rural folk towards Mumbai. Squeezed out of their villages by water scarcity, hundreds of young men from Maharashtra's parched interiors are now standing on the city's doorstep in search of employment. They are seen hanging around construction sites and railway stations in Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander , waiting to be hired as labourers by contractors. Back home, they are farmers, some of them even owning fields.  They have been forced to flee their lands seeing their animals die for lack of water and fodder and not in a position to do the only thing that they had been doing passionately – agriculture. 

Over 3,900 villages in the state of Maharashtra  have been declared drought-hit . The worst affected districts are Nashik, Solapur and those in Marathwada and western Vidarbha, which saw less than 10% of the expected rainfall last year. The name Marathwada identifies one of the five regions in Maharashtra state of India. The region coincides with the Aurangabad Division.  The region has a history ~ following one of the wazirs of Mughal empire, Marathwada became a part of Nizam’s domain.  With Indian Independence, the Nizam of Hyderabad delayed the merger and it was through police action that the merger took place.  On November 1, 1956, Marathwada was transferred from Hyderabad state to Bombay state. On May 1, 1960, Bombay state was divided into Maharashtra and Gujarat states, Marathwada becoming a part of the former.

From landowning agriculturist to a labourer in the city should be humiliating – still they have to earn and maintain their family. Life's tough, but for men from drought-hit villages who make a beeline for Mumbai and its extended suburbs, there's little choice but to wait for good times. They sleep on street corners, take a bath under the cover of darkness and take turns to cook.  Back home, TOI reports that more than five lakh residents in Jalna district in Marathwada are living a "curse" that threatens to worsen as the mercury soars. Municipal taps have run dry with water supply as scarce as once in every 45 days - and that for just half an hour. Residents walk a distance to get one bucket of supposedly "potable" water, which the civic administration has declared "unfit to drink".  Hospitals are turning away patients to "maintain hygiene" and schools are rushing to finish syllabus and exams before summer takes a toll on water tanker suppliers.

A failed monsoon has wreaked havoc not only on the lives of farmers, but also for ordinary citizens who have been deprived of services such as healthcare due to the water crisis.  Even industries which generally thrive are affected; all six units of the Parli thermal power plant in Beed district of Maharashtra have been shut down because of severe water shortage in the Marathwada region. The plant used to receive water from the Khadka dam but the supply was stopped as the water level in the dam has almost dried up.

The situation is grim and similar in over 12,000 villages in 16 districts of Maharashtra are in severe grip of water scarcity and that includes the whole of Marathwada region. Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed and Osmanabad are facing the worst crisis. All the natural sources in these areas have dried up, and the water levels at the reservoirs have dropped to an all-time low. With such water scarcity, the question of supplying water to agriculture and industry is not even being discussed. The state has requested the Centre for financial aid to ward off the grave crisis.

Only in tinseldom, you come across individuals changing the way the society lives…….. Good Samaritans, UK based Daily Mail has got this interesting news in their web edition dated 18th March 2013 titled “Meet Marathwada's water man”

Here is the report reproduced :  “A 70-year-old man from the arid Marathwada region has accomplished a feat the state government could not imagine - provide water to 900 people in his village Shrungarwadi.  At a time when the rest of Marathwada is facing severe water crisis leading to exodus from villages, Shrungarwadi residents are getting potable water at their doorstep, free of cost. This miracle has been made possible because of the extraordinary zeal of a humble villager - Tukaram Kolekar.

Two years ago, when rains eluded Shrungarwadi once again, forcing the villagers to trek more than 2km to draw water from a well, Tukaram decided to find a permanent solution to the problem. He had a well which had gone dry. Tukaram dug up a borewell close to the well and started pumping water into it. His initiative provided some relief to the villagers, but they still had to trudge some distance to get water from the well. So Tukaram bought plastic pipes and laid them from the well to the village. He also bought big tanks, placed them in the village and began storing water in them. Today, the entire village collects water from the tanks. To achieve this task, Tukaram invested his life savings and the income of his family members in digging the borewells and buying hosepipes and tanks. "I did it because God told me to," said the old man.

Tukaram's initiative has brought a smile to every face in the village of Shringarwadi.  Tukaram's family is not rich by any stretch of imagination. His three sons and their wives are daily wage labourers who crush sugarcane for a living. In all, Tukaram spent Rs 3.5 lakh to lay the pipes and dig the borewells. While his sons did not object to the expenditure, his daughters-in-law did rake up the issue.  "The Mathara (old man) doesn't listen to anyone. Earlier, we used to complain about spending all our hard-earned money on this but when he did not pay any heed, we stopped discussing the matter. Now, we laugh about it and say the Mathara is all set to spend our life's savings on this project," said Sindhubai, Tukaram's daughter-in-law.

Good Samaritan: Tukaram Kolekar
 enjoys the sound of water bubbling into a hosepipe from one of the wells he dug

After the borewells had been dug, other problems such as intermittent power supply cropped up. Tukaram decided to sleep near the borewell so that whenever power supply was restored, he could switch on the borewell. Soon he began digging more borewells. Finally, he found water in the upper reaches of the village, almost a kilometre from his home. Tukaram's family is now actively engaged in the project. "Even if we peel off our skin and stitch a pair of slippers for Tukaram, it we won't be enough to repay what this man and his family have done for us," said Jotibai Kolekar, a villager.

Real Hero …. And each one of us in India must know of this great person :  Tukaram Kolekar

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Mar 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Great man... great post... well written - Archana