Another ‘Manjhi’: A 70-yr-old man digs a 33-feet deep well, found water but no one came to help

No government help coming his way, govt official says govt scheme does not provide help to anyone who has dug his own well

The Hush Post: Most of us know of the feat of Bihar’s mountain man, Dashrath Manjhi, whose popularity and herculean achievement was brought to public platfrom through Ketan Mehta’s film ‘Manjhi’ with the protagonist’s role being essayed by actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui to a T. India abounds in many more such stories of grit, determination and common good. There is one such story of a 70-year-old man from Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh whose spirit is equally indomitable as Manjhi’s.
Sitaram Lodhi singlehandedly dug a 33-feet deep well in 18 months in the parched Chhatarpur district of Bundelkhand region. Water crisis loomed large on the village and no one was ready to offer to any help, even his family walked away.

A bachelor who stays with his brother’s family in Hadua village under Pratapura panchayat of Chhatarpur, Sitaram started digging work late in the year 2015 and was able to complete it only by 2017. Unfortunately, the well collapsed during monsoon. Sitaram could not get the walls plastered in the absence of funds.
There are government-run schemes like the Kapil Dhara Yojana of the state government to help farmers dig wells. The government schemes seem to be hardly reaching the people where they should, thaks to government redtapism.
Talking to a national daily, Luvkush Nagar Janpad panchayat CEO, R K Sharma just shirked his responsibility saying “I do not know whether the farmer had applied for a well under Kapil Dhara Yojana or not. The total cost of the project in that case is Rs 1.8 lakh which is borne by the government. There is no such scheme to provide help to anyone who has dug his own well.”
The family owns close to 20 acres of land. “It was a dry season and there was no water. We also did not have any money. So, I decided to dig a well in my farm. My family members said that I should not take such a task until I am sure that we will get water. But, I was determined,” Sitaram said .
“I used to dig from dawn to noon and then again from evening to sunset daily. I dug out the soil and then threw it outside the well — every day for 18 months,” he added.
Sitaram’s brother Halke said, “He was adamant at digging it in the farm without being sure whether there will be water or not. At one point, we all decided to stop him but convincing him at this age was tough.” Sitaram says, “After 18 months and 33 feet, we got water in the well. It was good water and everyone was happy. But, the happiness did not last long as during monsoon the water level rose in the well and the walls collapsed within.”
“I am still ready and fit enough to dig it once again, but I have yet not received any government help. Little financial help for plastering the walls of the well will do,” Sitaram said.
Undeterred, Sitaram is willing to pick up the shovel once again, provided he gets some government assistance.

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