People, Environment
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Armed Guards at Dams as Drought Grips Central India

Armed Guards at Dams as Drought Grips Central IndiaArmed Guards at Dams as Drought Grips Central India

As young boys plunge into a murky dam to escape the blistering afternoon sun, armed guards stand vigil at one of the few remaining water bodies in a state hit hard by India’s crippling drought.

Desperate farmers from a neighboring state regularly attempt to steal water from the Barighat dam, forcing authorities in central Madhya Pradesh to protect it with armed guards to ensure supplies.

India is officially in the grip of its worst water crisis in years, with the government saying that about 330 million people, or a quarter of the population, are suffering from drought after the last two monsoons failed.

 “Water is more precious than gold in this area,” Purshotam Sirohi, who was hired by the local municipality to protect the dam, in Tikamgarh district, told AFP. “We are protecting the dam round the clock.”

But the security measures cannot stop the drought from ravaging the dam, with officials saying it holds just one month of reserves.

Four reservoirs in Madhya Pradesh have already dried up, leaving more than a million people with inadequate water and forcing authorities to bring in supplies using trucks.

Almost a hundred thousand residents in Tikamgarh get piped water for just two hours every fourth day, while municipal authorities have ordered new bore wells to be dug to meet demand.

But it may not be enough, with officials saying the groundwater level has receded more than 30 meters owing to less than half the average annual rainfall in the past few years.

“The situation is really critical, but we are trying to provide water to everyone,” said Laxmi Giri Goswami, chairwoman of Tikamgarh municipality.

 

Financialtribune.com