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Assam: Drinking Water Crisis Haunts Baksa Village amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Baksa, May 6, 2020:

Amid the COVID-19’s destructive march across the world, the residents of a tiny village in Baksa district of Assam are now staring at an acute shortage of drinking water.
Ahead of the monsoons that ravages the state each year, the people of Kumarikata Bahbari located near the Assam-Bhutan border are now facing drinking water problems and a situation of hue-and-cry has erupted across the region.
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For the 150 or so families that live in the village, shortage of clean drinking water has become a major issue. Many backyard wells that the villagers were dependent on have now dried up, giving rise to a major crisis. In the few wells that do still have water, the quality leaves much to be desired and is not edible, villagers say.
An elderly woman told reporters that although the drinking water is fetched from far-off areas, they have to make do with the filthy water for other purposes, which raises serious questions about the health hazards that the villagers are subjected.
“The threat of Coronavirus is already there; apart from that, we could also die after drinking this murky water”, complained a local, lamenting the situation.
Another local, lamenting this turn of events, said, “Because of a drinking water crisis, for 2-3 months we have to fetch water from fresh water reserves far away. We are fearful that at this time of the coronavirus outbreak, our health could be subjected to further hazards because of this situation.”
Another local, a woman, applying pressure on the handle of her handpump, said that no matter how hard she tried, water would not come out.

Wells are dry

Amid the international crisis of the COVID-19, this shortage of water in rural Assam’s Baksa throws into question how the people will live a healthy existence.
Villagers now say that they have to walk considerable distances — over 1 kilometre — in search of pure water that could be used for drinking and other purposes.
A few villagers, however, adapting to the harsh times, are harvesting rainwater which they are using to perform their daily chores.
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It may be mentioned here that not too long ago in Bahbari village, a water supply facility had been set up, but it has now been overgrown with weeds and such, and now lies in absolute ruin.
Although water shortage was not a problem in these parts a few years ago, the establishment of brick kilns and other small scale industries, posing a great threat to Mother Nature in the Baksa region, locals say.
Meanwhile, the helpless locals of this Baksa village have urged the Government to intervene in the matter and regulate the nearby industries, which are allegedly the cause of this conundrum. “The reason for shortage of water is the boring done by nearby industries. Because of this, the layer of the water has gone down and people are facing acute shortage of water. The Government should look into the matter to ensure that the public gets adequate drinking water”, said a local.
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