Parvati Ramu Jadhav died earlier this week in a village of Thane called Dolara. She collapsed while trying to take home drinking water for her five children and husband. Her death sparked no hue and cry. There was no entourage of camera-wielding television journalists tracking the family’s every move. Parvati died the way she had lived — in the shadow of a city that didn’t care.
As we reported soon after the incident, a person living in Mumbai is allocated 45 litres of water a day. People like Parvati have to make do with around 3 litres every 30 days. When we spent a little more time with villagers in surrounding areas, their stories left us a little numb. Tankers had been allocated to some areas to help them deal with the crisis. However, the water being supplied was unfit for human consumption. It was accepted without complaint, and in the face of inevitable illness, simply because the locals had no other option.
To not drink contaminated water was to not have any water to drink at all.Imagine something like this happening in Mumbai. Water contamination is an ongoing issue, of course, as is the shortage. The sheer lack of interest shown by authorities though, reveals the glaring biases that enhance our rural-urban divide.
According to our reporters, roads leading to most of these villages are in a state of complete disrepair. Water troughs have been built, but serve no real purpose. Pipelines that could have been diverted from water sources nearby have been ignored because the laying of pipes isn’t lucrative enough. Everywhere, greed is the only motivating force. People are of no consequence. Here’s what this means: Only those with the ability to raise their voices can expect what most of us take for granted as our fundamental rights.