“Depletion of water Resources and Marginalisation of Dalit' (Schedule Caste) in Rural Gujarat”
Water, one of the five elements of a biotic environment is found more and more in short supply with the advancement of all types of development. Constant increase of population, water intensive agriculture, industrial process and qualitative improvement in life style has put the almost constant water quantum in short supply. Under the human rights manifestoes and fundamental rights in the constitution of India, the right of access to safe water is one of the rights, but experience shows, any scare item influence social structure and is distributed in accordance with power of the groups.
Caste, Class and Gender all the three-stratification system of our society have a strong relationship with water but for many still it is inaccessible. Analyzing water accessibility based on caste system looks irrelevant in contemporary era, but the fact is that the persons belonging to Schedule Caste generally face oppressive social discrimination due to concept of purity and pollution in Indian society. In normal condition it should be slight manageable, it is very much difficult to fulfill minimum requirement of water in scarce situation. According to Hindu social order, the Dalits are in lower most position of social hierarchy. They lack many basic services like water, food, healthcare, housing etc., which is going to worse in depletion of water resources and effects on their economic and social life, which would not be compensated.
Gujarat is a state with constant water scarcity. Once in three years is a year of drought. Moreover, increasing in salinity propagation is polluting ground water at very high level. It is reported that the salinity propagation is 0.5 to 1 km. Distance from the coastline since the ground water tables are going down by 4 to 5 meters every years. There were only 1500 villages, facing acute water shortage when Gujarat was carve out from Maharashtra in 1960, which is now increasing up to 15000 of villages in “No Source” list of Gujarat Government.
Barring a few, we do not have a scientific study of impact of depletion of water resources and status of marginal groups, like Dalits. Economically Gujarat is considered as a one of the prosperous states, while socially it is considered as a progressive and reformist state; even then, Gujarat lagging far behind as far as condition of dalits is concerned in terms of water accessibility.
Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to examine the available water resources and water accessibility to the Dalits in rural part of Gujarat.
What is the implication of water scarcity on marginal group like Dalit?
What is the role of civil society in water management to compensate the water needs of Dalits?
How the groups of Dalit adopt their condition in large society of upper Castes?
Can they compensate their lose of water accessibility?
Eight villages from constant drought prone and water scare area selected as cases. All eight villages are constantly fall in list of No Source villages, declared by Government of Gujarat. Two villages from each district of Ahemdabad, Amreli, Bhavnagar and Rajkot, selected for in-depth inquiry. Along with secondry data, primary data also generated through the Household Interview Schedule, Participant Observation and Focused Group Diussion. From each village 50 women respondents are interviewed, care had been taken to include all castes proportionately.
The study reveals that even after the six decades of independence, Gujarat is far away from acquiring human development features like abolition of caste hierarchy in terms of water accessibility. The lose of human development should not be compensated. It is true that the untouchability and concept of purity and pollution has reduced considerably in some public sphere, but complete disappreance of untouchability for water accessibility has not taken place, which is going to be worse day by day due to degree of depletion of water sources is increasing, this needs to be estimated to compensate the human lose.