When Guddu, a water chestnut farmer, taught lessons on urban wastewater and agricultural livelihoods
Not many are aware of the urban ‘river’, mistaken for a nallah, flowing through the Dhanbad city in Jharkhand. A walk along the river led to the discovery of farming of paani phal singhada in Jodia talab. A photo essay.
| Updated: August 14th, 2021
The farming of the paani phal singhada. All photos: Eklavya Prasad
Five months back in the month of March, an exploratory walk was undertaken along a nallah (drain)/stream/river, often addressed as one of the main tributaries of River Damodar. This nallah-stream-river drains a substantial part of the Dhanbad Municipal Corporation (DMC) area in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand.
During its initial flow, this tributary, which is an urban river, is more like a stream. As the river flows downstream, the character and the identity of the flow changes from stream to a nallah (drain), and finally transforms into a river after coming out of the city limits but within the municipal corporation limit.
This stream has multiple names, interactions, and uses. The overflow from the first water body into the tributary, Paumpu talab (pond), also known as Rajendra Sarovar or West Loco Tank, is called Pampu nallah. Within a few kilometres, the stream is referred to as Wasseypur nallah. After flowing for some more kilometres downstream, the stream gets a new name — Matkuria nallah.
Finally, from Kusunda onwards the stream gets a name and an identity of a river called Kari jore which flows into River Damodar.
The intent behind the March walk was to comprehend the existing sanitation scenario within the municipal area, which was part of an ongoing study on sustainable sanitation in the Dhanbad Municipal Corporation area. The walk helped in getting a coarse perspective about the existing status of water, wastewater, sewage and septage and in providing exposure to the essentials of the municipal corporation, which have remained hidden or ignored for a very long time.
During the exploratory walk, repeated mention about the farming of water chestnut, also known as paani phal singhada, in Jodia talab west of Pampu talab, paved the way to unearth the farming of an ecologically receptive and friendly plant.
Two days back, on August 12, the much awaited visit to the Jodia talab materialised and the farming of paani phal singhada within the municipal corporation limits of Dhanbad was discovered. The aim of this visit was primarily to understand and document the farming of the paani phal singhada, because of the productive use of wastewater in the pond for a livelihood endeavour.
Interestingly, the farming of paani phal singhada is unknown to many in the Dhanbad Municipal Corporation area, including me. The paani phal singhada is being farmed in Jodia talab by Mohammad Azad popularly known as Guddu along with his team of skilled manual labourers for the past 10-15 years.