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Dalits of town near Gujarat capital deprived of the most basic amenity -- potable water

By Vamshikrishna, Teja, Asvini,  Madan

Our founding fathers had a noble vision for an independent India and framed the constitution such that every individual in the country would have fundamental rights like the right to live and equality. Despite this, even after 75 years of independence, people in ward No 11 of Kalol, an advancing town of Gandhinagar district in Gujarat, are still struggle for one of the most basic of amenities -- drinking water.
Even in the 21st century, the deep-rooted feeling of elitism by the upper castes cannot be abolished in the minds of civilians and the government. The government is supposed to be unbiased and serve the needs of every citizen, but we have seen a clear case of unfairness here. The world we are living in is still divided by caste. Despite pushing our limits in the realms of space, technology, and science today, certain humans are unfortunately bound to irrational schools of thought.
As mentioned by residents of sector 11 of Kalol, around 3000 families live with this discrimination daily, and the municipal system fails to serve clean drinking water because they are Dalits. For a community with average earnings of rupees 10-15k per month, spending 10% on essential drinking water is unimaginable. Though the municipal corporation supplies drinking water, it is often murky as it is mixed with the sewage water. This is because of the faulty, unplanned municipal lines laid midway through the town, the water crisis originated because of the old and damaged water lines that the government did not fix. And all this in so-called vibrant Gujarat, home to the Prime Minister.
For the past 2 years, they have seen the deaths of 8 people due to water-borne diseases and orders have been passed to change the lines for wards 4, 5 and 11. After a long wait new lines were installed in wards 4 and 5 but still no actions were taken in ward 11.
Numerous protests were done, and many complaints were filed with municipal corporations and the District Collector with the help of Dalit women leader Ms. Ramila Behn and Area counsellor Mr. Khunj which have not brought positive outcomes. Despite the agitation, the media coverage of the issue is also abysmal as many national media agencies don’t want to show the government on the wrong side.
In a heartrending incident, a 4-month-old child died from drinking unsafe water. The drinking water comes from the nearby tank to provide a tap water supply. Another problem here is, that there are no specific standards they follow while mixing chlorine to make it germ-free. This act is doing more harm than good by making the water unsafe for drinking – especially for children/elders with low immunity levels. Even the tankers sent by the government for relief were taking advantage of the situation and charging high prices than usual. Apart from the drinking water issues, the community is facing many other issues like proper roads and pre-schools for children.
A town situated just 20 km from Gujarat capital, Gandhinagar, Kalol is a part of many such towns throughout India in which communities face a similar situation. The people of Kalol wait for the day the constitution means more than mere words.
*IIM Ahmedabad | Batch of 2023. These are personal views of the students and not of the institute


Vineeth said…
Nicely written article.
Ankith Kota said…
Thanks for generating awareness of this issue through the article. Much needed.


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