Ranchi, July 8 (IANS) Meant to boost irrigation, small water bodies in Jharkhand seem to have become death traps, and politics is brewing over them with the Congress targeting the BJP government.
Digging up of water bodies in the farm fields have been a much-talked-about project of the Raghubar Das government. So far, about 175,000 water bodies have been dug up by two government departments. But these water bodies are now in the headlines for wrong reasons — drowning of innocent people.
The list of people dying because of these water bodies is getting bigger by the day. In the last fortnight, 10 persons, including eight children, died when they got drowned.
Recently, four children died after they fell into the water bodies in Garwah and Latehar districts on a single day.
Three girls of Jhilwahi village of Latehar district had gone to take a bath in a ‘dova’, but it turned out to be a disaster. Eight-year-old Fudi Kumari got drowned first. Two other girls — Ruby, 10, and Buchi, 12 — tried to save Fudi, but they also got drowned.
In another incident the same day, 12-year-old Sukan Oraon of Bna village of Garwah district got drowned after falling into a small water body while playing.
Such deaths were also reported from Giridih, Gumla, Koderma, Dumka, Khunti and Ranchi. The deaths have put a big question mark on the water bodies across the state.
Adding up to the dark list was seven-year-old Chhatu Mandal who fell into a water body at his father’s field. His mother Reeta Devi also lost her life while trying to save him. Similarly, Gini Murmu from Jama block in Dumka drowned in the water body when he was bathing.
Vrindavati Devi of Banagutu village in Gumla lost her son Subhash Kumar after he fell into a water body in her fields. Ten-year-old Anuj Kumar from Shali village in Giridih died similarly.
In Giridih again, Asmul Ansari a resident of Huljori village, fell into a water body and died.
Two more deaths due to drowning were reported from Namkum, and one each from the Bero and Chanho blocks of Ranchi.
The Jharkhand government had mooted the plan to dig these water bodies in farm lands to preserve water and help in irrigation.
The water bodies were dug by the rural development and agriculture departments. The rural development department dug around 100,000 water bodies under the MNREGA scheme; while the agriculture department dug around 75,000 water bodies. These water bodies are likely to irrigate around 75,000 hectares of land in the state.
But with so many lives lost due to drowning in these water bodies, the authorities are now quite worried.
“The first phase of digging these water bodies has been completed. Fencing and plantation are the ways to keep people away from the water bodies. We will take up the issue at the highest level,” an official of the rural development department told IANS.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties have slammed the state government.
“The government takes such decisions in haste. We are not opposed to small water bodies but who will be responsible for the death of the innocent children?” state Congress spokesperson Kishore Sahdeo asked.
“The state government should have thought about the safety of people. Views of the experts should have been considered,” he told IANS.
(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at [email protected])