In the remote and drought-prone Bheekangaon village of the Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh, sisters Jyoti and Kavitha helped their father, a poor farmer, construct an irrigation well for the family farm.
The local administration only dug 10 feet of the irrigation well sanctioned under the MGNREGA scheme all the way back in 2011, before abandoning it.
In the past four months, both sisters, who are college graduates, and their brother, Deepak, an engineer, along with a few aunts and uncles, have dug a further 17 feet.
For their father Babu Bhasker, who owns no livestock or machinery to construct a well, the sight of seeing his daughters at work gives him happiness and dejection. He had spent all his earnings on their education, so seeing them return to the field and work as manual labourers, hurts.
Speaking to the Times of India, meanwhile, the sisters say that they ran around government offices for three years asking the administration to construct the well.
On not receiving any response, they decided to pick up the spade themselves in peak summer where temperatures regularly go beyond 40 degrees Celsius and prepare the well so that their father and uncles can work next summer.
“We have no oxen. My educated daughters pulled out soil and rocks out of the well for four months with a rope tied around their waist. They worked like oxen,” says Babu, speaking to the Times of India. Seeing the example set by the sisters, the uncles and aunts also joined this family initiative.
“Nobody helped us. The well was sanctioned, but officials completely ignored us,” said Jyoti and Kavita, speaking to the publication.
Meanwhile, Babu’s brother Lakhan decided to mortgage his share of the land to raise Rs 50,000 for the well. “We filed a complaint with the CM helpline, but to no avail,” he told the publication.
With the well now constructed, Babu hopes to plant soybean but remains deeply concerned about his children, who are all looking for jobs.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)