Deficient monsoon last year has left Nana Ankadia village, around 15 km north-west of Amreli town, high and dry.
The village gets drinking water supply only once in every 15 days and maldharis (shepherds) have to take their cattle to other villages every day to quench their thirst.
The village has a population of 6,500, mainly of farmers and shepherds.
Dhirubhai Javia, sarpanch of the village, says, “The panchayat well is 105-feet deep, but there is not a gallon of water in it. We get water from Mahi-Pariyej pipeline once in every 15 or 20 days, but this is hardly sufficient for 1,000 people.”
Residents say that due to scant rains, groundwater sources could not be recharged and so wells and tube-wells in the village have gone dry. There is no water available from any nearby dam or lake.
“We do not get water from panchayat at all as our home is at tail-end of the pipeline. I have to order 5000-litre water tanker every fortnight to meet the needs of my five-member family,” says Shardaben Bodar, a housewife, adding that well and tubewell on her farm have gone dry.
“I take my cattle to my neighbour’s well to make them drink water,” she adds.
Mansukh Boghra, a farmer, says he brings cans of water from his farm on his motorbike. “I have to make at least four trips with two cans to my farm a kilometre away every day to fetch water for home. This proves costly, but there is no other option,” says Boghra.
As the monsoon reached late here last year, farmers opted for more of fodder crops instead of usual cash crops like cotton last Kharif season. However, around 50 shepherds, who own no land, are still hard-pressed for fodder and water.
“There is no grass left in gauchar (grassland) and I am forced to feed our cows leaves of neem and peepul, besides shrubs. I have already bought two truckloads of fodder for Rs 55,000 for my 30 cows and most of it has been consumed,” says Bechar Gamara, a shepherd.
The bigger problem facing shepherds is shortage of water for their cattle. “Since water is never available in avada (public water tub for cattle), I have to take my 15 cows to Sanga Dairy village two km away for water every day,” says Kalu Matiya, another shepherd.
The sarpanch says he has made several representations before Taluka Development Officers (TDO) and District