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tv   Indias Wait for Water  BBC News  August 11, 2022 1:30am-2:01am BST

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this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour straight after this programme. when you can't get water from taps, life revolves around where the water is. india's villages house 200 million families. only a fraction have tap water.
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it's very hard to carry pots of water repeatedly on your head from that source of water to the village, which is almost a kilometre from here. from the hot desert... ..to the cold mountains... ..and dry, arid plains. it's backbreaking. i want to find out when will the walk be over? when will water come home? in 2019, prime minister narendra modi made a promise. to bring water through taps
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to each home in every village by 202a. he said it will ease women's daily lives. i've set out on a journey across the country to check out the government's claims. these are the dry, arid plains of central india. they used to be green, but after recurring droughts, this is the kind of water some villages are left with. buffaloes bathe here, and some women, too. some take this water for washing and cleaning. managing the family's water needs is women's work here.
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there aren't many choices. these villages are infamous for their water crises. it's a hard life that no woman would choose. families don't want to marry their daughters into these villages, and when they do, these men tell me the women want to leave. it's a growing list of single men, getting older, looking for brides. i ask how many are unmarried here. three are nudged to stand up. one is called a reject. used to the jibe, he smiles. translation: i was 22 when the first marriage j
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proposal came. in total, five families came to meet my parents, but when they got to know of the water crisis here, they left. i ask how they would convince the prospective brides�* families. perhaps offer to help their daughters fetch water? translation: no, i have other work, and she has different - work. she has to cook food, clean the house. i have to tend to the animals, farm and travel to attend social gatherings. so it's down to vimal�*s mother. she fetches water, washes his clothes, and cooks for him. there are three other sons, but they don't live here. the village didn't have much work so they moved out and found brides, too.
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she says she's never benefited from being the mother of sons. sons who would bring brides, that is other women, to share her water burden. the terrain is rocky and the distance is long so it's very hard to carry lots of water repeatedly on your head from that source of water to the village, which is almost a kilometre from here. as the morning blends into afternoon, and it gets hotter, the task of ferrying water also becomes harder. to help women, the village council arranges water tankers in summer. each woman gets five buckets full. five buckets for the whole household. coloured in the colour of impure water.
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even this support is not available in neighbouring villages. the women are angry, yet resigned to their destiny. translation: drink the water i've just drawn and you will. get a taste of what we drink every day. translation: there was a hand pump outside my home - in my maternal village, but now i have to drink this dirt. if i knew how bad things were, i wouldn't have agreed to the marriage. but are women asked about their choice at the time of marriage? i asked this woman. translation: they didn't ask me. i don't know about others.
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she was 15 years old when she was married. she has spent the last ten years around this well. in summer, the water level recedes. then they have to fill waterfrom puddles. translation: we dig puddles, climb into them, and fill water. in small pots. then we let it stand for a couple of hours, and after the dirt settles, we use it. what can we do? so we are enduring it. wherever there is water here, it stinks. this villager explains that the water, in which the buffaloes are bathing seeps in, polluting the water in the well. but it's all they have.
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translation: this is the only source of drinking water - for the village. it is used to bathe and wash clothes too. if we dig deep for hand pumps, we get hard water and it can't even get soap out of clothes. the government tap water scheme, the jaljeevan mission, is looking for solutions to find clean water and then supply it directly to homes. it believes rivers are the answer. this is such a lovely version of the yamuna. back in my city, delhi, where i grew up, it's dirty, shallow, it's polluted. but here, its lush, it's 200 metres wide, and this is the peak of summer. when it rains after monsoons, it will get even more lush, deep. and this river is now going to be used to service this dry, arid, rocky region of this area,
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where ground water has dried up, whatever is there is not fit for drinking. the rains are not regular. every other year is declared a drought. so the government plans to use surface water from the yamuna to take it to individual houses via tap water connections in 400 villages in this area. it is a solution tried by previous governments too. then the river's water wasn't enough. it dried up and the crisis swelled again. how will this time be any different? the engineer struggles to explain. translation: we plan to use surface water. i we have assessed that, if we dig a certain amount
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of water, it will not lead to scarcity. if there wasn't enough water in the yamuna river, the scheme wouldn't have been sanctioned. the deadline is looming large, and the project is lagging behind in central india. would the experience be any different in the mountains in the north? 13,700 feet above sea level in the dramatic cliffs of the himalayas. it is popular among tourists. not many realise this is a desert over a mountain. in this cold desert, as you go
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up because of the high altitude, oxygen levels come down so it is harder to breathe and there is almost no vegetation around. all you can see are these dry, lifeless mountains. i reach a small, remote village and find it buzzing. a water tanker has arrived. there are no taps at homes here, so everybody wants to fill up. i volunteer to help, and she readily agrees. but it is hard to keep pace. ifall behind. translation: | keep | water for drinking here, and for washing utensils, here.
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but the water from the tanker is often not enough. then she has to make trips to the glacial stream. it is a long trek. i asked lamo's husband why we bypassed lower streams. he explains to me that they were dirty, and at the top is the cleanest source. in winter, all of this is even harder. translation: temperatures fall so low that water freezes - when left outside, so we fill only as much as we need. if we need 20 litres, we fill 20 litres.
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so do you not store water at all? if we store, then we have to put blankets around the water tank. even then, ice forms overnight, and we have to take a clean wooden stick in the morning to break it. running water would be the best solution. lamo and sanam also got a tap installed over the new government scheme. it is thermal—coated to prevent freezing, but water is yet to arrive. traditionally, these glacial springs had enough water to service the drinking water needs of the entire region. but over the decades, as the himalayan ice has receded, the streams have shrunk, and the region has had to move its dependence from springs and surface water to underground water.
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ladakh is sparsely populated. it has enough underground water for now, but as more tourists head here, this could change soon. and water could deplete, just like the rest of the country. at this moment, the focus is to supply what's available to homes here. a maze of pipelines is being laid. to prevent freezing, the digging is much deeper than on the plains. 66 inch! "five—and—a—half feet deep," i'm told. it's the same for water tanks. wow!
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translation: ladakh is not like plains where there - are overhead tanks from where water is distributed to homes in the village. here, tanks are built underground to prevent water from freezing. we are using solar panels extensively because out of 365 days, ladakh has 320 sunny days. this will reduce operation and maintenance cost. after a year of preparation, water supply is being tested in the village today. mobile phone rings. hello, hello? apart from a few homes, taps remain dry. the local engineer explains that a pipe burst, causing leakage. mistakes they can ill afford.
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fear of freezing, and pipes bursting in winter, is widespread. so much so that a neighbouring village got taps but refused water supply. it was turned on only in summer. spalzes and her sister's life is much easier now. after a month of regular water supply, the scheme has finally won their trust. translation: initially, j we weren't sure if water supply would work. now the engineer has explained that they have made a pit at the end of the supply line. this means extra water would run off there and the pipe will not burst. although she worries, she is hopeful, too. she has never travelled outside ladakh.
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she likes it here, their simple life. if only they also had tap water. and, finally, to india's west, the thar desert. barren landscape, dotted with women in bright colours. it's like the scenery changes, the walk the water remains. in scorching heat, often barefoot. baby cries. many times in a day. day, after day, after day. translation: married i women here are expected to keep their face covered. she tells me she and her four
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daughters—in—law make four trips to fetch water in the morning, four in the afternoon and four in the evening. it is sam right now. every drop is precious. goats bleet. used with care and, if possible, used again. it's hard to find water in the sand dunes here. hand pumps don't yield anything, and open pipes are a reminder of failed wells. the lifeline of the desert has been these reservoirs
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that store rainwater. but as is this farmer tells me, a few months�* rain is not enough to quench a year's thirst. translation: the reservoir dries up and then we have i to pay to get a water tanker. even the tanker comes on a tractor as there is no road. then plants start growing at the bottom and deplete the water. we have to keep an eye, go down, and remove them regularly. homes are few and far between in the desert. getting water across sand dunes, a big challenge. the engineer in charge explains the ground work done over the last 50 years. translation: work on using | ground water in barmer began in the 1970s, by building open
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wells and tube wells. then 1990, the indira gandhi canal project was started, and it was completed by 2013. this brought water to the village. now the jaljeevan mission is bringing this water to each household. an oasis of water in the parched thar desert. this is the tail end of the ambitious indira gandhi banal project — india's largest. this project begins all the way up in the north, in the state of punjab and travels hundreds of kilometres to come down here to rajasthan where the water is treated, made fit for household consumption and then pumped to one million people living across the thar desert. now the government's new scheme wants to take the canal�*s water to the desert.
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like on top of this sand dune to malarum's house. he shows me the new pipe laid to his house. he has covered it in the sand to keep it safe from the scorching heat. now the wait for water. malarum's wife and daughter have again set out on their dailyjourney. tulsi was five years old when she started walking with her mother to the well. she told me she would take a small pot along. every bit counted. on the way i ask her mother, did the men in the family help? laughter.
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she laughs and tells me, "the men won't even make "a cup of tea for themselves." "water is only women's work." she didn't know then that her life was about to change. today, the water from the indira gandhi canal is going to be supplied from this water tank to individual houses. the village council head is in charge. as is common in many indian villages, women get elected to these positions but remain homemakers. it's the men in the family who call the shots. he tells me about the schedule to ensure water supply to all houses in the village. and the supply
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is finally turned on. machine whirrs. there is excitement at the house. she brings out two empty pots. and then more. first, it's the sound of the wind. wind rushes. some more nervous anticipation. and then, finally, water. thank you very much. thank you.
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laughter. translation: now i can rest easy. i've had a tough life, but no more walking with pots heavy with water, and no more paying for tankers. but for others, the wait continues. they live on a higher sand dunes, and it is still uncertain how and when water
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will be pumped there. india is one of 17 countries globally where water stress is extremely high. this means it is running out of ground and surface water. increasing population and climate change have been a strain. as the government finds ways to bring tap water to homes, it will also have to conserve and recharge the water that remains. because millions of women are still waiting, dreaming of a different life for their daughters. one where they will not have to walk to fetch water.
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hello. there will only be a few exceptions to the hot and sunny story over the next few days. so far this week, we've got above 30 degrees three times, 32 celsius on wednesday afternoon. the heatwave intensifies further through the rest of the week and into the weekend. we could have four consecutive days above 35 degrees, more than we saw back in 1976. the highest of the temperatures are in the area covered by the met office extreme heat warning, an amberwarning, health and transport impacts expected — leeds, liverpool, down the way to the south coast. and it's this area, under high pressure, where we'll also see heat build elsewhere. but notice weather fronts very close to the north of scotland. this is your exception. here, through the night and into the morning, we'll have had some rain, temperatures not dropping away much. maybe a little bit fresher through scotland, northern ireland, parts of northern england, but a warmer night and start to thursday morning in the south. a few mist and fog patches clearing, dry and sunny for many, but across the western isles, orkney, shetland, the northwest highlands, rain will come and go through the day. 14—18 celsius here, but 27, 28 eastern scotland, 27 in parts of northern ireland, 35 degrees, potentially, to the south midlands, that heat continuing to build.
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now, as we go into thursday evening and overnight, more cloud, occasional rain or drizzle in the north of scotland. chance of a few mist and fog patches close to eastern coasts of england and scotland too, but night by night, temperatures starting to creep up a little bit as well. friday, we do it all again. some early morning mist and fog in the east, one or two patches close to eastern coasts, a greyer outlook across the north of scotland but not as wet as it'll have been for some on thursday. under sunny skies and light winds elsewhere, we'll see temperatures climb, potentially 36, maybe 37 celsius, through the south midlands. a little bit fresher down some eastern coasts. coolest of all, though, in the far north of scotland. by the start of the weekend, probably a better chance of some sunshine in the far north of scotland, but a better chance of some low cloud continuing, eastern coast of scotland, northeast england, limiting the temperatures in aberdeen a little bit. 26 inland, 27 to northern ireland, again, 36 or 37 in some parts of southern england. that warmth and heat continues into sunday, but a slot of something changing. a bit more cloud, the chance
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of a few storms around later on sunday into monday, bringing a drop in temperature. but even though those storms may occur into next week, they'll be fairly sporadic, many places probably staying largely dry. and, of course, we need a good deal more rain.
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welcome to bbc news. i'm rich preston. our top stories: donald trump refuses to answer questions under oath as part of an investigation into his business activities in new york. he called it a witch—hunt. dozens of people are missing after a boat, laden with migrants, sinks off the greek coast. a search—and—rescue operation is under way. china reaffirms that it could take taiwan by force. nancy pelosi, the us house speaker, whose visit sparked china's drills around the island, has defended her trip. we will not allowed china to isolate taiwan. they have taken
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part in the world health organization and other things were taiwan

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