Mining and The River​​

Narrator (Aashna) – You are listening to Native Picture and I am your host Aashna. Before we begin, let’s take a moment to think about what clean water means to you. Mining activity by the public sector Steel Authority of India Limited, also known as SAIL has polluted river Hamsagandha, the only source of water for the people of these villages. With no proper roads and poor infrastructure, the villagers rely on naturally made aquifers which are often contaminated with minerals and unsafe for drinking. Diarrhoea is a major health issue for children and adults.

Donai Indh – The canal gets completely red during the monsoons and the water is unfit for bathing or drinking.

Draupadi Samadh – All these pollutants flow into the river from the canals and we use the same water for cleaning utensils, bathing, and washing clothes. What can we do? There are no facilities for clean drinking water. We cannot even brush our teeth properly because of the polluted water, as our mouths turn all black.

Donai – The canal has polluted water due to which the villagers are falling sick.

Draupadi – The villagers, be it a child or an elderly person is constantly vulnerable to Malaria.

Narrator (Aashna) – This is the Donai Indh and Draupadi Samadh, residents of the Chiria village in Jharkhand. This is Donai who drives a 9000 liter tanker, delivering water to the villagers like Draupadi.

Donai – I am a tanker driver and I live in Chiria village. I fill water in the tanker and then go to different villages to provide water every Monday and Friday.

Narrator (Aashna) – Where does this water come from?

Donai – We load the water in the tanker from the pumphouse from where we provide water to various villages.

Narrator (Aashna) – How many people get the supply of the water?

Donai – Three villages including the Chiria village are benefited with this water. There are about 450 to 500 people in all.

Narrator (Aashna) – This particular arrangement is barely a month old.

Draupadi – It has been about a month since we have been receiving water from the tanker.

Narrator (Aashna) – What were they doing before they had access to this water?

Speakers – Before this, we used to dig aquifers near canals when we anticipate rains. We would clean the area, collect the rainwater, boil it and use it to cook as well.

Narrator (Aashna) – Due to the rocky terrain, most of the water in this area is lost in the surface and some absorbed by the soil percolated in the rock-bed below forming natural aquifers. These aquifers are made by rocks acting as sponges. The whole village is dependent on this aquifer called “chua” as it is known in the local language.

Donai – Because people were falling sick, the villagers made a petition and sent it to the company. Therefore, now we are getting water from the tankers.

Narrator (Aashna) – When something like this happens, what do you do? What are the SAIL officials doing to help out and is it fair?

Donai – We have no authority to say that. It is enough that we are getting the facility of drinking water.

Draupadi – We have held several gram sabha meetings and wrote petitions due to which they arranged for tankers providing drinking water otherwise we would not have drinking water. There is so much dust on the roads due to buses traveling that the dust enters our houses but nothing is being done to fix it.

Narrator (Aashna) – This is not the only village facing water contamination.

Donai – This water gets mixed with the water in the Koina river, which thereafter flows into the Koel river near Manoharpur.

Narrator (Aashna) – This is the story of Draupadi and Donai from Chiria. For more stories, please visit our website, nativepicture.com. Thank you for listening.

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