Ghaghidih Central Jail on Wednesday. (Animesh Sengupta)
Depletion of groundwater and a plunging water table have forced Ghaghidih Central Jail authorities to ration precious litres for inmates this summer.
Besides restricting use of water on premises, 1,281 inmates, comprising convicts and undertrials, have been asked to use bare minimum for bathing and washing clothes.
On the crisis, jail superintendent Satyendra Chowdhury said water management for drinking and other purposes had become a major concern as groundwater level had depleted considerably.
“We have two deep bore wells and 22 tube wells on the jail premises. The deep bore wells are drawing less water now and 10 of the 22 tube wells have gone dry the past week. So, we had to restrict the use of water on the premises,” said Chowdhury.
The jail superintendent added normally two overhead water tanks, with a capacity of 550 litres each, were filled by the deep bore wells round-the-clock.
“But ever since we observed that underground water level had depleted, we had to stop filling of the tanks from 11am to 4pm,” he said.
Chowdhury confirmed the prisoners had been asked to use less water.
An undertrial, who was produced at Jamshedpur Civil Court on Wednesday, spoke of his water woes at the prison.
“Earlier, I would wake up at 6am and finish bathing and other chores, but now I have to wake up at 4.30am or earlier as a crowd of inmates gathers at the taps,” he said.
He added physically weak inmates did not get a chance to bathe regularly owing to scarcity of water and fierce competition to access the taps.
Executive engineer of drinking water and sanitation department (Jamshedpur division) confirmed that underground water table at the Parsudih and Ghaghidih area had depleted considerably.
“From our assessment, it can be said that water table in that region has depleted by 25 feet. This is because the area is densely populated and the civic body does not have a water supply system. Residents depend on deep boring and tube wells, causing fast depletion of underground water level,” Prasad told The Telegraph.
The executive engineer added if the water level depleted further and the jail administration approached them, then they would extend all co-operation to meet the crisis.