The Facebook group Sanchari, for avid travellers, was started in 2014

A Malayali FB group is digging wells giving the gift of water to remote Rajasthan villages
news Social Media Monday, September 05, 2016 - 07:53

Come September 7, Surali, a village in faraway Barmer district in Rajasthan will finally have easy access to drinking water. And for that, it has a group of Malayalis to thank, who’ve gifted the village a well with plentiful water supply easily at hand. What’s more, if things work as planned, many more villages in the state will be blessed with a similar Malayali touch.

It all began in June 2015, when a school teacher and environmental activist, Hamidali Vazhakkad, wrote a travelogue on the Facebook group of a travel fraternity in Kerala called Sanchari (Traveller). The travelogue was about the border district of Barmer, and focused on the struggles of the people there without easy access to water. Among other things, the post talked of how the people living there often had to restrict even basic activities like bathing to once every few days because of the non-availability of water.  

In response, the FB group, which has 2,23,600 members spread across 14 units in Kerala and six units in various West Asian countries, decided to launch a project called “Marubhoomiyiloru Neeruravayaayi Sanchaariyude Kinar” (Traveller’s well in the desert). The campaign kicked off with fundraising in the second week of June, and the contributions started pouring in.

Sahil Karanath, one of the group’s founders explains that the project plans have changed significantly as a result of on-ground realities. “In the beginning, we had planned for six wells in six villages, costing Rs 70,000 per well. But when the work started, we understood that the costs would rise, may be up to Rs 1.2 lakh, depending on the location.”

As a result, he says, the plan to finish off the project with six wells  at a go had to be abandoned for a slower approach.

However, he adds, the project will not now stop at just six wells either, and will continue to identify other villages in need of water and continue digging wells.  

For now, the digging of the first well has been completed, and a team led by Hamidali Vazhakkad will visit the village this week to inaugurate the well on September 7. Following this celebration, the team will also take the opportunity to tour more of the region to identify other villages in need of water.

“When the project was announced we got a good response. A person from Bahrain even sponsored the full costs of one well. We expect to complete work on other wells soon as well,” Sahil says.

Sahil explained that each well would benefit around 200 families living in each of the villages. “Most of the villages don’t have proper road connectivity, electricity or water,” he adds.

“Rain water harvesting and water tankers that only come to the village occasionally are the main source of water there. For water from the tankers, the villagers have to pay a lot of money,” Sahil says. Each of the wells being dug will be over 100ft deep and 4ft wide, he reports.

The project is being implemented with the help of an NGO that works among the villagers.

The Facebook group Sanchari, for avid travellers, was started in 2014. This is not their first philanthropic venture. Previously, the group had launched projects of providing study materials to some poor students, to clean up tourist spots and to provide financial assistance for underprivileged persons requiring medical care. 

 

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