MP city becomes hottest in world, water table sinks half km
While Indians were voting for the largest election in the history of the world, Khargone city in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest temperature in the world as mercury levels rose to 47.5° Celsius—the hottest in the entire world according to a weather website. This was the highest in the world for the second time in three days in April-end.
But that is not all. As is synonymous with summers in India, the underground water table in Khargone city has sunken more than half a kilometre while the city is suffering from a debilitating water crisis.
Villages in Khargone district are staring at the inevitable day-zero, the day they run of water completely. Many villages in the district, like Temla, depend on groundwater. Since the pipeline that provided water to the village broke down in February, the residents have been able to get water only once a month. Now, villagers use bull carts to fetch water from faraway sources.
Inhabitants of the Dhabla village can be seen carrying containers of water on their carts every morning and evening. Dagari Bai, a resident of the village, said water crisis in the region is frequent and all the prominent water sources in the village have dried up. While a resident of the village, Kuwar Singh, is kind enough to let about 50 families draw water from his solitary working well, Dagari is worried about the future as the temperatures will remain high till the month of June.
The situation is quite similar in Ambagaon, another village in Khargone district. With a population of 350, the village is without any primary source of water as the groundwater sources dried up in February. Jhinki Bai, a resident of the village, said, “Bringing water from a pit five kilometres away from the village has become the routine of my life. Some people of the village have bought donkeys to carry water but many women have to carry water on their heads.”
The situation is so acute in 10 other villages—including Bhinakgaon, Jhhiranya, Chhendiya, Anjan, Bhagwanpur and Segaon—that they will be running out of water soon.
DP Dubey, a senior scientist and former director of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Bhopal, said birds and animals are most vulnerable in this season as heatstroke has been attributed to be the cause of deaths in birds. Similarly, it has a significant impact on the evaporation of surface water and from trees, he said.
The impact of heat wave on birds was most evident when more than 20 herons (freshwater birds) were found dead under a tree at Sanawad civil hospital in the first week of May. Most of the surface water sources, including Kunda river, which passes through this region, have dried up owing to excessive heat and evaporation.
Authorities say they are trying their best to maintain water supply in Khargone city from the Dejla Dewada dam, but the dam too is facing severe water deficit. According to BL Rawat, incharge of engineering for the dam, its reservoir can hold 50.29 million cubic metre water but there is only two cubic metre water available. This is half of what was available last year this time.
The situation in Khargone city is so dire that people are getting water supply on alternate days. Saraju Sangale, in charge of water supply in the municipality region, said the city of Khargone needs 22 lakh gallons water per day, but due to the undergoing water crisis, they are only able to supply 18 lakh gallons.
Barring a few villages on the banks of Narmada, most villages in the region are facing a massive water crisis. The administration’s inability to provide a solution to this problem has angered many. Rehmat, a water conservation activist, alleged that while the government pretends to be serious about water conservation, it has done little. “If they work on permanent solutions like small check dams in villages and conserve traditional water sources for rainwater harvesting purposes, it can solve the crisis.”
Water activists say that indigenous solutions like planting trees can also help with the water crisis. Residents of Rupkhedi village had adopted this solution and carried out a plantation drive in the village in 2001. Balam Balke, a resident of Rupkhedi village, said, “While every neighboring village is facing a water crisis, all the wells and hand pumps in our village are in working condition. We planted many trees near the water source as well and made a check dam.”
PC Sharma, Public Relations Minister of Madhya Pradesh government, revealed that the Madhya Pradesh government is heading towards a permanent solution to this problem. “We are trying to make temporary arrangements to maintain water supply, but that is not the solution. We will come with a solid plan to eliminate the water crisis permanently. We will carry out works related to the water conservation plan at the village level soon, once the plan is finalised,” he said.