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Tank under construction, dam under repair & Chanderi Village struggles for water?

In the old Chanderi village, slogans on the walls read, "We have to bring tap water to every house; we have to make the village prosperous." The villagers await the words to turn into reality. Our Ground report from Chanderi village of Sehore.

By Rajeev Tyagi
New Update
Chanderi water scarcity sehore

Shankar Singh of Mahua Kheda, near the Takipur dam under repair | Photo: ground report

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Read in Hindi | Post the Lok Sabha election results, senior journalist Ravish Kumar shared a video on the X, where people are seen climbing down an almost dry well, to draw water. In the post, expressing his concerns over the water problem, he wrote, 

“This video has been received from MS Mewada of Madhya Pradesh. It is from Chanderi village of Sehore district.”

However, with our on-ground inquiry, we found that there is no such well in the village, and hence the video is not of the Chanderi village.

We reached Chanderi village, located 6 km from Sehore City, and saw some old men sitting under a tree near the village entrance—informally called New Chanderi. They agreed on the water scarcity in the old Chanderi but, after much deliberation, dismissed the viral video as be from some other village.  

The road from Sehore city to Bhopal divides Chanderi village into two parts. One side of the road is called Old Chanderi and the other is called New Chanderi. Apart from the road, another thing that divides the village is the availability of water.

Two Chanderis

Sitting under the shade of a tree while smoking a Biddi, Gabbar Singh says that his house was in old Chanderi. But, he migrated out towards the road and built a house in new Chanderi, primarily due to water scarcity.

"I don't know what the problem is in old Chanderi. Even if we dig a borewell 300–400 feet deep, no water comes out, only dust. Lately, the water problem starts in March itself. We had to walk almost 1.5 km to New Chanderi to get water." Gabbar Singh says

Chanderi village

When we move towards old Chanderi through the rural road attached to the main road, apart from acres and acres of agricultural land surrounding the city, we witness four construction workers placing the steel structures for the on-ground water tank. One of the workers added that this is a Public Health Engineering (PHE) initiative to supply water to the village(s).

People in the village have been facing water problems for at least the last four years. Water dries up in all the borewells in the village around late February, villagers claim. Due to the absence of a government water line, they fetch water on tractors, cycles, and sometimes on foot from private tubewells installed in New Chanderi. The water tank construction has given villagers hope against the scorching heat and water crisis. 

Chanderi village water tank being build by PHE department
The PHE department is constructing a water tank for water supply in Old Chanderi

Dream of a water tank

Suraj Singh Mewada, a farmer by profession, tells us that people arrange water for their crops from borewells or depend on rain. People with money order water tankers, and the poor fetch water on bicycles or foot. The water from the government hand pump in the village is not drinkable; therefore, villagers are not left with any other option.

The village sarpanch, Vishnu Mewada, regarding the viral video, says 

"After the video went viral, district CO and PHE officials came to the village and investigated the matter. They also found that the video is fake and not from our village."

Describing the water crisis prevailing in the village as a common problem, Vishnu further says,

“Everywhere there is a water problem in summer. Is there no problem with the water in Sehore City? There is no truth in people coming from Old Chanderi to New Chanderi to fill water. The Panchayat has its tanker, through which water is being supplied to the people.”

Stop dam broke; no attention was paid for 4 years

Suraj Singh says, “The stop dam built on the nearby river collapsed some four years ago.” He further claims that there was plenty of water in the village before the stop dam collapsed. It was only after four years that the administration started the repair work.

This stop dam, named Takipur, is built on the river flowing between Mahua Khedi village and Old Chanderi. The locals from three to four adjacent villages benefit from this dam. Due to the rain two days ago, a pit in the river was filled with water, in which Shankar Singh was bathing his buffaloes. Shankar Singh says that there is a water problem in his village Mahua Khedi, too. He too believes that the problem will be solved only by the completion of the dam.

Chanderi Shankar Singh

According to Sarpanch Vishnu, the area's MLA, Karan Singh Verma, got sanctioned Rs 45 lakh for this dam, after which its repair work has been completed. On the delay in the repair of the dam, Vishnu argues that,

"45 lakh is a huge amount, that is why this work has been delayed."

Suraj Singh Mewada says that he has also built a house in New Chanderi and the main reason is the lack of water in Old Chanderi. He says

"What will we do by living where there is no water?"

On the benefits of the dam, he says,

"Yes, now the water problem may be solved, but now our house is ready. If this dam had been repaired earlier, maybe we would not have shifted."

Sehore Collector took cognizance

Praveen Singh collector sehore

Ground Report spoke to Sehore District Collector Praveen Singh about the viral video. He said that this video came to his attention through a tweet. He soon concluded that the video was not of Chanderi. He inquired about the real location of the video from MS Mewada, a person who sent the video to Ravish Kumar. Collector Singh said,

“He [MS Mewada] refused to tell us the real location of the video. Maybe he isn’t aware himself.”

On the question of widespread water crisis in Chanderi, Collector Praveen Singh says,

"As you told me, there is a problem of hand pumps in Chanderi, which needs to be fixed. So I will send a team of PHE officials tomorrow itself. And if the water level has gone down in some localities, then we will arrange for water according to the convenience of the village by increasing the pipe."

On the falling groundwater level in old Chanderi, Collector Praveen Singh says that he will send the technical team of PHE to the village, conduct a survey and study how water can be made available to the village for all 12 months.

Har Ghar jal Yojana

In the old Chanderi village, slogans on the walls read, "We have to bring tap water to every house, we have to make the village prosperous." The villagers await the words to turn into reality. 

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