Story By : Savita Verma and Laxmi Team
“Mujhse mere ghar wale kehne lage hai ki tum to bilkul neta ho gayi ho, to maine bhi bol diya ki haan neta hi ho gayi hu. Dekho hum sab aurato ne milkar handpump sahi karvaya ki nahi. (My family has started telling me that you have become a leader. And I tell them that I have indeed become a leader as our women group members have successfully solved the water problem by facilitating the repair of the hand pump”. shared an ecstatic Rani, member of Mahila Vikas Samooh, Veer Abdul Hamid Colony, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.
Veer Abdul Hamid Colony is a densely populated unauthorized settlement in Vijay Nagar area of Ghaziabad. Although Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam had installed six hand pumps to address the water related need of 400 households, they all became dysfunctional over a period of time. In absence of any other source of water barring a few privately owned borewell pumps which mostly never worked due to heavy power cuts, the settlement was reeling in distress for the want of water.
Members of Mahila Vikas Samooh, a Community Based Organization (CBO) formed with the support of Laxmi, decided to work towards addressing the problem. They submitted a letter to Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam in the month of March and brought to their notice the pathetic condition of water in Veer Abdul Hameed Colony. In response, Nagar Nigam Officials repaired two hand pumps and assured to repair rest of them in a short while, but no action was taken for the next two months. Meanwhile group members again wrote a letter to the Municipal Commissioner and marked a copy to the Chief Minister, UP and District Magistrate, Ghaziabad. Inspite of all the efforts, when nothing seemed to be moving after a wait of three months, the group decided to meet the officials at Nagar Nigam and again submitted the letter.
Nagar Nigam officials pointed out that due to internal conflicts in the colony they were not able to repair the hand pumps. The PRA Exercise conducted earlier with the community also confirmed the same and scarcity of water was one of the key reasons for the internal strife. Group members held a meeting to mull over this issue. Members decided to individually talk to the families who were opposing repairing work. One more reason of conflict was that some women wanted that handpump located near their house should be repaired first, while others wanted that this should first happen near their house and that was also the reason why Nagar Nigam officials got irked and went back without repair work. Thus, this conflict was also resolved when all sat and decided amicably the sequence of repairing.
Finally on 14th May 2017, handpumps in Veer Abdul Hameed Colony, Ghaziabad were repaired, much to the relief of all. Women were the most relieved ones, as collecting water from 2 kms away was their responsibility and in this summer heat, it was the most painful job. Children felt happy as they could now take bath under handpump, any time of the day and the whole colony lauded the efforts made by Mahila Vikas Samooh. The group members were happy that their effort helped in restoring water supply and paved way for a better summer for the inhabitants of the colony.
Laxmi is our partner organization implementing the Samaveshi Sheher Programme.