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Bundelkhand is keeping drought at a distance by recharging wells

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Bundelkhand is keeping drought at a distance by recharging wells

In the middle of Gureh village in Bundelkhand’s Banda district, you will witness an imposing ancient well. The seven-and-a-half thousand villagers consider the well to be their pride. According to the villagers the well has been there since “the time of the kings.”

A 70-year-old villager Chhedi Lal Tiwari whose family has lived in Gureh for generations, fondly recalls the past when this well, deepest among the 25-odd wells in the village, would fill up almost two-thirds during the rainy season. The well not only provides water for drinking and bathing but also for farming. In recent years, the water level has fallen drastically because of the erratic rainfalls and siltation. The well almost dried up last year, rues Ram Bahadur, the 50-year-old village chief. All the other wells that were not so deep suffered the same fate as well. However, over the past month, the Gureh’s villagers are changing things in their favor.

They are encouraged by Bandra’s district administration which has taken on the region’s persistent draughts and paucity of rain on a war footing. Gureh’s villagers have got together to clean all the wells. Men have been hired to rappel down the stone walls in order to remove silt and debris. The results are no doubt great.

Bahadur says:

“WE have to complete the cleaning still, but we can already see the water coming back.”

Egged on by district officials, villagers also performed Kuan puja every evening in order to spread awareness and ensure that the wells don’t go into disrepair again. Other than just cleaning the wells, the villagers are also paying attention to three large ponds flanking the acres of farmland. Gureh’s largest existing pond has been deepened by 1.5 meters. Another pond that had all but disappeared is also being revived and the third pond has been freshly constructed under the supervision of the village elders. The excess soil that is dug out from this pondsis given to the laborers so that they can use it to repair their homes.

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