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Where there's a will, there's a well - Giridih blind to woes, rural women labour for months to end water crisis

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SHAHNAWAZ AKHTAR Published 19.01.10, 12:00 AM

Giridih, Jan. 18: For 20 years, they trekked kilometres to fetch water from the distant Usri river. Today, they have permanent source in their courtyards, courtesy woman and will power.

Denied help from different government establishments, female members of three families at Pesragarh, 2km from the Giridih deputy commissioner’s office, laboured for months and dug up wells to solve the problem of water in the village once and for all.

The maiden initiative was taken by sisters Hazra Bano and Rabiya Khatoon. Wife of a coal worker and a rickshaw-puller, the two siblings had a tough time doing household chores and fetching water from the river in the absence of the men folk.

They petitioned block and district officials, apprising them of their woes, but in vain. “Last year, we decided to dig a well. We had no choice. Water is necessity and we did not have money to hire labourers. Our husbands remain busy all day long,” said Hazra, in her mid-thirties.

It took the two sisters five long months to dig the 30ft well and line it with bricks. But they had shown the way.

Neighbours Aasma Khatoon and Mukhtari Begum, both sisters-in-law, took a cue from Hazra and Rabiya’s determination.

The duo, in their forties, helped by their children, dug up a well, 35ft deep, in three months. “Last month, we lined it with brick and cement,” said Aasma. “We won’t have to walk for kilometres now,” added her happy daughter Halima.

Inspired by the two families, Shanti Devi, Mukti Devi and Tikni Devi are also digging a well.

“We do not have means to hire labourers and moneylenders ignored our pleas. So, we are doing it all by ourselves. We have dug a 20ft hole. During monsoon, it fed rainwater. We are using that now. Digging will resume in summer,” said Mukti.

Her two sisters-in-law nodded. While Tikni is a widow, Shanti and Mukti’s husbands are daily wage earners. So, these women never complain their absence in the project.

BDO Indu Rani lauded the efforts of the Pesragarh women. “I joined two months ago and was busy with elections. But now, I would like to extend all help to these women,” she said.

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