I have been travelling for a month now in rural parts of Orissa especially in Balanagir district and have been to around ten to twelve villages. I have been seeing the struggle, aspirations and hopes of the people for a better life. Seeing villages without electricity and any source of running water at households have been very painful experience for me at many times. Imagine the life without electricity and water. How we in cities and in other more fortunate parts of the country get into scramble during the two hours of summer power cuts or when there is a problem with the water supply. All our daily schedules and activities get messed up and hopelessness spreads. Even in those times we hardly think of the lives of those millions of people who have never seen electricity and running water at their homes. It is even difficult to anticipate the everyday struggle these people have to go through their lives due to non-availability of the facilities which are very obvious luxuries in cities and towns. [caption id="attachment_5742" align="alignnone" width="671"] An out of service hand pump in rural Orissa[/caption]There are villages where one can find wells and hand pumps and then there are villages where people still walk 2-3 kilometers to take a bath in a pond, wash clothing and bring water for their household use purpose. There is no way to filter that water before consumption and in such condition increased susceptibility to diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and fever is very obvious. Scarcity of water also has dampening effect on the agricultural produce. Sharp contrasts can be seen in the development and outlook of the villagers who are in the vicinity of 10-15 kilometers but with different water resource availability. Villages near to the rivers grow two seasonal crops every year due to availability of water, hence increased output and income. Villages which are far from the river manage to produce only one crop due to water dependency on monsoon rain, hence lesser output and income. Most of the water woes are also because there is no irrigation system in the area while at every 30-40 kilometers one can see the small rivers. In the nearby district of Kalahandi, the rice production has gone up by five times in between 1999 and 2013, all because of the around the clock irrigation system and better farm input. What does it speak of is that there are huge opportunities for growth in rural parts of India and government and non-government organizations if play their part well can work wonders.[caption id="attachment_5743" align="alignnone" width="700"] Scenic view of a river flowing through Kalahandi district in Orissa[/caption]Electricity has its own role to play. Besides lightning homes, almost all the tools such as tube wells and water pumps depend on electricity to function. So without electricity the sound water supply system and modern irrigation system will find it difficult to get developed. As per the August, 2014 report of central electricity authority of GOI; 25722 villages in India are un-electrified. Not to forget that as per the government rules, villages which have 10 percent of their households electrified are considered electrified in India. The latest initiatives of government of India such as ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ and building toilets will be successful only if running water and electricity is made available to the households across the country. Providing basic facilities of water and electricity is also very essential to channelize the energy and will of the people towards more productive work. I am sure you all would agree that walking 2-3 kilometers to a pond to take bath and bring back water is not a productive work in the year 2014.
Read - How non-availability of water and electricity is the biggest problem of Rural India