NEW DELHI: For the women in the village of Dandichi Bari, the walk to fetch water begins at 4 a.m. every day.
A water crisis in the village of around 300 residents in the Nasik district of Maharashtra state has withered not only the women’s hopes of a change to their strenuous routine, but also the single men’s hopes of finding a bride, as women from other villages have increasingly shunned proposals from them.
The people of Dandichi Bari depend on farming during the monsoon season and on contractual work in the summer, when their fields dry up and the scorching heat makes the area practically uninhabitable.
Even then, the women have to walk downhill to a water source, before sunrise and after sunset, to bring water back up to their parched households, as the village well has run dry.
“Life is tough for women in this village,” Mohna Bai Wagmare, 60, told Arab News. “Every morning we (set out) at 4 a.m. and return after one and a half hours with pots of water. We do the same in the evening too.”
Wagmare moved to Dandichi Bari four decades ago, after marrying a local. But marriages with outsiders are becoming increasingly rare in the village.
“Water is the biggest problem,” Govind Chintaman Wagmare, another Dandichi Bari resident, said. “It’s true that many youngsters in the village struggle to get a bride from outside.”
Nitin, a young bachelor who is looking for a wife, told Arab News that it can take at least three years for boys from the village to find a bride.
“The village has (attracted) notoriety for its water crisis, and parents from neighboring villages resist sending their daughters to Dandichi Bari,” he said, asking that his full name not be used for fears that it would further jeopardize his prospects of marriage.
Local authorities stepped in last year and provided a water tanker to serve the village during the hottest months.
“Dandichi Bari is located some 300 feet above (sea level) and the soil is such that it does not hold rainwater, thereby making it difficult for us to keep (water in) the well throughout the year,” Deepak Patil, the local administration’s development officer, told Arab News. “To address the problem, we provided a water tanker.”
But villagers say the tanker only provides enough water to quench their thirst, without meeting their other needs, such as washing.
While local officials deny there has been a drop in marriages in the village, local activist Ramesh Thorat told Arab News that the village has had “social problems” since at least 2014, when a bride fled Dandichi Bari.
“A newlywed bride left the village (just two days) after her marriage, when she experienced the acute water crisis,” he said. “Not much has changed since then.”