Girls ditch grooms in parched Gujarat villages

Vijaysinh Parmar TNN 

Rajkot: A number of eligible bachelors in the drought-struck Dedan village near Amreli are ruing their luck. The acute water crisis here has cast a dark cloud over their chances of getting married.

Parents of many brides-to-be have broken off their daughters’ engagement with at least four young men in this village of around 12,000 in the past couple of months.

The reason is that they don’t want their daughters to walk a minimum of 5km daily just to fetch drinking water.

The water crisis in Saurashtra has been simmering for a while but now things are getting worse. The district received just 56% of its average annual rainfall last year, as against 93% in 2011. Fierce clashes between people and local civic authorities in Amreli over water are now becoming frequent.

This state of affairs has had a deep impact on the marriage market. “We made all efforts to get our son married for three years. But the first question the girls’ parents ask is about the water situation,” says Valji Patel (name changed). In desperation, Patel has now shifted to Surat where he is hopeful his son will eventually find a bride.

Among those who have stayed behind, there are numerous stories of engagements breaking over water woes.

Sitting in his shop in Dedan, which has just one common well that has long dried up, Sameer Gori, 28, recounts how his engagement with a girl from Rajkot broke off because her parents didn’t want to send her to a village that was at the mercy of erratic and expensive water tankers.

Sarpanch Nathu Rathod nods in agreement. “Nobody wants to give their daughters in marriage to our village and the situation is only getting worse. We have repeatedly requested the government to dig a borewell or supply tankers regularly. Otherwise, our village is doomed.”

State declares 10 districts as water scarcity-hit 

Months after fierce clashes over water erupting across Gujarat, the government woke up to the gravity of the crisis and declared 10 districts with 3,918 villages scarcity-hit.

Revenue minister Anandiben Patel nnounced in the state assembly on Tuesday that the government surveyed 69 talukas in 10 districts and found that 939 villages were facing severe water scarcity while 2,979 were partially hit. The affected districts are Kutch, Patan, Banaskantha, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Amreli and Bhavnagar. Saurashtra is the worst-hit as out of 3,918 villages, 3,745 are in this region alone.

Patel said that the government was making efforts to provide water to the affected areas and employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employee Guarantee Act for farmers whose crops have failed. TNN

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