Good Samaritans help quench Kolams' thirst
YAVATMAL: Drinking water has been a perennial problem for Kolam tribal pods in Zari tehsil of Yavatmal district. But for assurances they generally get nothing. However, two Good Samaritans from Punjab showed compassion for their suffering fellow citizens and dug up four borewells at an estimated cost of Rs 2.5 lakh to find a permanent solution to the problem.
Manish Dadhwal (32), a PGT teacher in Ludhiana-based BCM School, and his engineering student Jatinder Kumar Verma (20) made the dream of the Kolams come true.
An article titled 'Rahul ki bechari vidhwaye' in a leading Hindi magazine sometime in 2011, highlighting the harrowing life experiences of the farm widows, prompted Manish to visit the western parts of Vidarbha to have a closer look at the situation. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had showed special interest in redressing the problems of drought-hit and suicide prone areas of Yavatmal district which seemed to have prompted the write-up.
Manish, Jatinder and Prithpal Deogan first went to Nagpur and then visited a few tribal villages in Zari tehsil in December that year. After studying the situation for three days, the threesome returned to their hometown with a strong determination to do something concrete for the people hit by agrarian crisis.
They collected funds from philanthropists of Ludhiana and came to Zari on June 22. They visited the four Kolam pods at Kundi, Hiwra, Nandgaon and Ambazari where the tribals faced acute drinking water problem for the last 50 years. The womenfolk had to walk 4-5 kilometres daily for fetching water. Though the water they would get was contaminated and non-potable, they had no option in the scorching summer.
Manish and his colleagues then decided to first solve the drinking water problem. They dug up 4 borewells, costing Rs 60,000 each. Manish told TOI, water was found at a depth of 300 to 450 feet and was potable. He said the team would return to Punjab on June 28 as their school and college are reopening on July 1.
Giving details of future plans for the welfare of farm widows and their families, Jatinder Kumar said they would collect donations from noble people in Punjab and set up a hospital for poor in the region. Manish spoke of setting up a veterinary hospital in the region after witnessing the death of a cow in village Ambazari due to starvation on Sunday. He said his present and former students have expressed willingness to serve the people in Yavatmal region. The villagers of Nandgaon on Sunday felicitated the Good Samaritans for social commitment and compassion.
Kishore Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), said not much has changed even after a petition was filed on tribal starvation, water and malnourishment issues in the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court in 2001 and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). A team of NHRC paid a visit in 2006 and the government assured to arrange water, food and shelter to all the tribals. The ground reality is that nothing much has changed, Tiwari said. In such a situation, such helping hands are required to save the dying tribal communities of Vidarbha.
Teacher's tribute in memory of son
The bore-well at Nandgaon has been donated by Rama Kapoor, a teacher in Ludhiana, in memory of her son Monu who died of blood cancer. It was a touching moment for the villagers when they came to know that Monu was denied water by the doctor during the last moments of his life. But his mother wanted to see the people get potable water for which money was given. Grateful villagers have put up a memorial of Monu Kapoor near a temple in Kolam pod with his photographs and the last painting devoted to his sister. Residents of the nearby villagers have also started using water from this bore-well, said Suresh Bolenwar. This sure would fulfil the wishes of Monu's mother.