Prince Mathews Thomas has a piece on woes of Latur:
“Tanker aalah aahe kaa (Has the tanker come)?” “Tanker aalah aahe (The tanker has come)!”
These two sentences define life in Latur since February, when water stopped flowing from the taps of its nearly five lakh homes.
The first is a question that people ask in despair, as they wait for the tractor-drawn tanker to bring water. Like Swaroopa asks her husband as she comes to check on their pots, among hundreds, that are lined along one of the neighbourhoods on Sai Road. They have been waiting since early morning.
Now it is 4pm, but there is no sign of the tanker. With no means to buy water, Swaroopa has little choice but to wait for the municipality’s supply.
The second is the exclamation that follows the arrival of a tanker, often after a gap of eight days. In Balaji Nagar, a middle-class locality in Latur, the sound of the chugging tractor brings women out of their houses. Blue tanks, each with a capacity of 200 litres, are already lined along the houses. As the municipality employee fills each of the tanks, some women try their luck and bring additional pots to fill. It doesn’t work; the municipality man has strict instruction to adhere to the 200 litre-per family quota of the portable water. Unperturbed, the women manage to collect the water that is leaking from the tanker’s pipe.
Since trains started bringing water to Latur from April 11, locals also queue up at the large overheard tanks that store the transported resource.
Razia B, is at the tank near Gandhi Chowk. Next to her are four pots of water filled to the brim. She is waiting for one of her sons to come and transport the pots on his bike. Earlier, she used to carry them, one by one, to her house a kilometre away. But last week, she collapsed midway and had to be hospitalised and put on saline. “Sometimes I used to make four rounds each in the morning and in the evening,” she says.
Day or night, the scenes are similar around the clock. It is 10.30 pm and Sheikh Nihal, a clerk in a local school, has come to a tank near Shivaji Chowk with five pots.
“I had my dinner and saw the first innings of the IPL match before coming. It will take about two hours for my turn to come,” says Nihal who is suffering from kidney stones. The ailment is common in Latur, the after-effect of consuming borewell’s hard water. But now, most of the borewells have turned dry.
Terrible to read all this..