Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A day in Public Health Department’s office in Gurgaon

Last year, a visit to the local health department turned out to be an eventful one. I had gone to meet a senior official, in order to seek his permission for a possible interview. To my surprise, a group of about 30 men and women from a village in Gurgaon district, entered the office and started complaining about the water issues in their village. It was quite a sight, as the office atmosphere suddenly turned into that of commotion, with everyone talking and arguing. The village women, about 15 in number, were also not holding themselves back. One could understand that the villagers were not satisfied with the water situation in their village. Also, they were complaining about the location of water boosting point that was to be constructed in their village. As per them, the proposed location of the boosting point was faulty and could never deal with the village water woes.

I had read about such situations in newspapers but was never witness to them. Being witness to such an event for the first time, I could not envisage any improvement in the situation. However, it was all happening right in front of my eyes! After about 5 minutes of pandemonium, the PHED official asked one person among the villagers to put forward their point. After listening to them, the official assured the villagers that he will personally visit the village and ensure that the issue about location of boosting point is taken care of. He also used urged villagers not to waste water as it is a limited resource. He went on to add that there was no scarcity of water, but the issue is mainly that of water management. Villagers agreed to this and assured that they will provide full support to the government department. The official then exchanged his phone number with one of the villager in order to ensure that they do not have to make such a visit to the PHED office. He assured that he will remain in contact with him and ensure that the water situation in the village improves. As the group of people were leaving, womenfolk turned back and appealed the official to help them get rid of the water issues. It was quite heartening to listen one of them say, “Take away our land, but provide us water”! Another woman added, “Government promises us ghee, but does not even provide water”!

Thus, what started as a situation that could go out of control was eventually sorted out amicably. In fact, the issue with faulty location of water boosting point is common for one of our intervention villages. However, proper placement of water distribution pipelines has given hope to the villagers that water will reach everywhere.

So, a day that had started as any other regular filed visit day, turned out to be very interesting and also dramatic! One gets to experience such events, only in the field!!