The residents of New Shimla are fighting their battles with water crisis almost every day and some seem to have found their own silver lining in it.
With the area experiencing an on-off water supply, some backward localities in Sector 3 lack even the basic amenity of water taps in their houses. What has come ahead as a saviour for this problem are the reservoirs called ‘Baolis’ in the region.
They are the main sources of drinking water for an entire community. These sources provide water throughout the year providing people with both water and labour opportunities.
Where the supply shortage is looked upon as misery and hardship by some, others are using it as an opportunity and turning it into money earning source.
The children belonging to the lower strata of the society are the ones mainly involved in the water fetching business with their parents working as labourers. With no taps in their own household, the kids provide water for their own houses as well as for others. They carry water from the Baoli to peoples’ houses at the rates fixed in the area.
The water demand in the area considerably shoots up every summer and comes as a pleasant turmoil for these children.
Khushboo, who is 13 years old, said that she has been delivering water in the neighbourhood ever since she was 5 years old. The rates differ from area to area. Where some people pay Rs 50 for one bucket, others pay Rs 30.
In an interview, Khushboo told that most of the kids around the area are involved in the same task. They rush towards the Baoli every day after school, or sometimes in the mornings too as and when the need may be.
“There is no break for us. We have to work hard in the scorching summer heat and the harsh winters alike,” said Khusboo. She goes to the Baoli every day with her friend Preeti who is 10 years old. Both of them work and play together with really big dreams for the future.
Khushboo is studying at Rajkiya Pathshala, New Shimla and aspires to join the army when she grows up. Life is not fairly easy and every penny matters for her family.
Though this is generating a larger income for these households, this is also a source of brewing social problems.
Children like Khushboo and Preeti have to work in soaring heat to gather water for several households. Some people in the area are deprived of their basic right to clean water and some government action is needed urgently.
The practice is robbing children of their childhood and child labour is indirectly being promoted. Also, the water from the Baoli is not exactly fit for drinking and is unhygienic which can lead to diseases like cholera, jaundice and typhoid.