The Gurgaon research team has been conducting regular field visits to the selected research sites viz. Sadhraana, Budheda, Sultanpur and Jhanjhrola Khera. These visits bring out new and interesting insights from the field. One very interesting and challenging aspect has been to understand how people perceive and understand a changing climate, falling water table, source of their daily water supply, etc. Response to questions on changing climate continues to vary depending upon an individual’s understanding. There are many who promptly speak about increasing pollution, global warming and greenhouse gases! They also speak about how afforestation can help in increasing rainfall and checking pollution level. Their general responses are – less rainfall, longer summers, shorter winters etc. The discussion becomes even more interesting when they are asked about the kind of impact this changing climate has on their lives, crops etc. People then speak about the times when a pot of water left out in the open would get frozen by the morning because of cold. This however does not happen now because winter has reduced both in duration and intensity. Winter season during this year, as per them, was confined to a period of one month; from 15th December to 15th January. People also speak about increased "khushki" (dryness) over the years. A recent interview revealed that increased "khushki" would mean more termites which in turn harms the crops. People also speak about how reduction in rainfall, barring the rainfall in 2010, has impeded them from growing crops such as Paddy and Sugarcane.
People also provide very interesting response when asked about the source of their water supply. For example, in Jhanjhrola Khera when people were asked about it, they simply mentioned name of another village (Iqbalpur) as their source of water! When they were further asked if HUDA (Haryana Urban Development Authority) provides them the water supply, they confused HUDA with ‘Bhupinder Singh Hooda’ – the current Chief Minister of Haryana. Their next remark was that they got water when ‘Om Prakash Chautala’ was the Chief Minister! The fluctuating water table also provides interesting responses from people. For them a reduction in water table reflects in the form of need to bore deeper in the ground or to install submersibles to be able to draw water. Opposite to this, relatively better rainfall in the year 2010, forced few tubewells to shut down. When people are asked to predict the level of groundwater, the figures mentioned by them varies a lot. For example, in Jhanjhrola Khera, people predict the water table to be at about 40 feet whereas few others predict it at about 100 feet. People also have interesting remarks about the crop production. Although they have seen an increase in productivity but they believe that the use of artificial fertilizers has also made their grains ‘weak’. When asked about what exactly ‘weakness of grain’ means they say that the food products made from these grains no longer have the same nutritional value as they used to have when produced using natural fertilizers.
Howsoever amusing these insights from people may sound, they are going to be pivotal during the course of the research. It is on these insights that one needs to work on, to be able to unravel the mysteries of water issues in the peri-urban villages.