Cement cha jangal ach jhalela aahe [It has almost become a cement jungle],” says Sanjay Chavan, a farmer from Uchgaon village in Kolhapur district. In the last decade, Uchgaon has seen an increase in factories and industries and a simultaneous decrease in groundwater levels.

“Our wells are out of water now,” says the 48-year-old farmer.

Nearly 14 per cent of wells in parts of Maharashtra, including Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, show shrinking water levels, as per the Ground Water Year Book of Maharashtra (2019). The average well depth has gone from 30 feet to 60 in the last two decades, says Ratan Rathod, a drilling contractor.

Every house in Uchgaon now has a borewell, says Sanjay, siphoning off large quantities of groundwater. “Twenty years ago, there were 15-20 borewells in Uchgaon. Today there are 700-800,” says Madhukar Chavan, former deputy sarpanch, Uchgaon.

Daily water demand in Uchgaon is between 25 to 30 lakh litres, but “[...] the village can only have 10-12 lakh liters every alternate day,” says Madhukar. He says the situation is set to trigger a massive water crisis in the village.

This short film follows the farmers affected by diminishing groundwater levels in Kolhapur.

Watch the film: In search of water

Jaysing Chavan

Jaysing Chavan is a freelance photographer and filmmaker based out of Kolhapur.

Other stories by Jaysing Chavan
Text : Siddhita Sonavane

Siddhita Sonavane is Content Editor at the People's Archive of Rural India. She completed her master's degree from SNDT Women's University, Mumbai, in 2022 and is a visiting faculty at their Department of English.

Other stories by Siddhita Sonavane
Translator : Anuja Date

Anuja Date is a Bengaluru-based PhD student and works on issues of rights of forest dwellers.

Other stories by Anuja Date