The parched Bundelkhand is awaiting a revolution when piped water will reach every house under the Har Ghar Nal project, saving women from their hard toil to fetch water from far-flung areas.
“The people of the villages will get a major relief through the Har Ghar Nal scheme implemented by the state government for seven districts. Pure water will be made available in the villages and the people of our village will also get the benefit of this project,” said Pawan Sharma, village head (gram pradhan) of Bukhara in Mauranipur block of Jhansi district.
Bundelkhand, the cultural powerhouse of Uttar Pradesh, is swinging to the rhythm of water. The happiness of people who have faced scarcity of water for years is to such an extent that not only in the folk songs of Jhansi but in Mahoba, known as the land of Alha Udal, instead of Veer Ras, the Har Ghar Nal Yojana is being praised.
Folk songs like 'Paani ki suvidha de kar sarkar ne mushkil mein diya sahara hai’ and 'Bin paani hum jeevan mein reh nahin sakte’ are reverberating in all the seven districts of Bundelkhand.
“Why will not the women rejoice because once the water-stressed region is blessed with the potable water under this scheme, the thirst of thousands dealing with water woes will be quenched,” the gram pradhan said.
He said the happiness among rural women was overwhelming as their regular woes of trudging long distances and back to fetch water for farming, cooking and other household purposes that takes a heavy toll on their health and family life will come to an end.
The Yogi Adityanath government has approved projects to extend piped drinking water scheme to about 4,500 villages of nine districts of Bundelkhand and Vindhya region that had never been supplied pure drinking water. The entire area was divided into 50 parts and the best quality bidders were allowed to work at very competitive rates. These companies will also maintain these projects for the next 10 years.
Initially, the 10 village clusters to be covered by the scheme in Jhansi district include Gulara, Bacheli, Tilaitha, Budhpura, Imlouta, Barthari, Teharka, Kurechha, Purva and Barwar. They will receive water from Matateela, Parichha, Lahchura, Saprar and Pahadi dams, the Barwar lake and the Betwa river and will be distributed among the villages through the network of pipes.
A senior official said that the supply was earlier scheduled to begin in December 2022 but the state government had directed the construction agency to expedite the construction work in Jhansi district to start supply to 648 villages in December this year.
There is a belief that the piped water project will bring social harmony.
"There were fights over water. Now with every house getting water, women will be able to save time and the presence of pure water will also get rid of diseases.” Said Pravesh, a resident of village Bukhara and a representative Jal Jeevan Mission
Awareness campaigns are being run in every village to ask people to save and preserve water. Alha ballads and street plays are being organised in gram panchayat secretariats. The women representatives of the Jal Jeevan Mission are making people aware of the importance of water conservation.
The song 'Jal prithvi par hai sabse anmol…' has become the anthem of the region. Be it Budhpura village of Jhansi or Lahchura Kashipur village of Mahoba, or Saliya Nathupura village, or Gorkha village of Charkhari tehsil, the folk songs of Har Ghar Nal Yojana are on everyone’s lips.
In addition, street plays like 'Pani ki keemat pehchan' and 'Jal hai to kal hai' are being staged to motivate people to save water.
“There should be no wastage of water and to save it, women have started a campaign, which will benefit many,” said Kumari Kanchan, a resident of Mauranipur development block in Jhansi.
Radheyshayam, a resident of Dhawar village in Mahoba, sums up: “Everyone is happy with the fact that our region will get water. The scheme is being praised in our folk songs and street plays. For the first time any government has thought of bringing water to our houses.”