In Baksinagar village of West Bengal’s Malda district, people are facing acute water shortage for the past 10 days. There is only one deep tube well in the village that provides clean drinking water. However, in this scorching heat, there is not a drop of water in the tubewell for the past several days. This is because the electricity department has disconnected the supply to the tubewell. There were outstanding bills during the lockdown imposed in the state owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With no clean drinking water available nearby, villagers have been forced to fetch water from far off areas. Many are relying on wells made inside their homes. Neighbours have been borrowing water from each other to quench their thirst and cook food.
After repeated complaints to the village panchayat fell on deaf ears, the women of the village finally took to the streets on Friday afternoon and blocked the Malda-Nalagola road. The women sat with placards and empty buckets on the road and raised slogans against the panchayat and the administration. The traffic came to a standstill owing to the blockade and the Habibpur police force was forced to intervene.
The protesters refused to vacate the spot till the officials assured them of action. The cops tried to pacify them, but even after hours when the protesters did not budge, the panchayat chief and the block development officer reached the spot and assured the issue will be resolved soon.
The BDO of Habibpur Supratik Saha said a petition will be filed with the power department to request resuming supply to the tubewell. The public health and technical department have also been asked to find an alternative source of drinking water in the village. In addition, discussions are also being held with the electricity department to start other deep tubewell connections in the village.
A local Trinamool Congress leader claimed he was unaware the tube well’s electricity supply being snapped. He said a few days ago also, the tube well was out of order and was repaired after the panchayat approached the department.