In Drought-Hit Kerala, Women Dug 195 Wells In A Year Without Getting Paid

Women digging wells

As Kerala braces, a deadly drought the dearth of water in the state’s villages has compelled women to take the onus of providing water to all on their shoulders. These women, through sheer grit and determination, have managed to dig 195 wells in a year. Among these, some are 15-feet deep.

A group of women in Paain Palakkad’s Pookotukaav Panchayat teamed up in groups of six and each group worked on digging up one well. The completion of the digging of a well would take 15-25 days. This arduous task required them to climb down makeshift bamboo ladders, dig vigorously for hours at a stretch and also keep clearing the mud till they reached the water source.

Their journey was, however, not an easy one since they would often be confronted by their own family members for doing something that was conventionally supposed to be done by men.

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A 40-year-old Mini Sreedhar tells NDTV,“My husband used to say that women don’t dig wells. That’s the job of men. Now you will take our jobs also?”

Such remarks didn’t deter the women from bucking traditions by turning up every day for digging the wells. Ms Shreedhar, a native of the same village, expressed her initial apprehensions of digging a well. It was the support of other women, she says, that helped her go ahead with this.

While the collective digging is going on in full swing, their trials seem to be never-ending. Working under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, these women have not received their wages since January, forcing a lot of women to drop out gradually.

The women report that they haven’t received a single penny for the hard labour they have been putting in.

“We have worked relentlessly for more than a year, but we have not received even a penny as a wage in last six months. How do you think we will survive?” asks Radhamani Unnikrishnan. Such negligence on the part of the authorities is forcing a lot of women to drop out gradually. Astonishingly, an amount of Rs 10 lakh is pending to be paid as wages to these women.

Credits: NDTV

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