The Caste of Water: Photo Essay

A photo essay by Prashant U.V on the traditional water management system in in Nashik region. It depicts the inequality, violent structure of control, oppression and power hierarchies associated with caste.


Ganeshgao is situated in Sahyadri mountain range in western ghat of Amboli. As the village is at the top of the ghat, most of the area is a flat region. Therefore percolation of water is not possible, causing water scarcity in the village for four to five months.


Since last 35 years, water scarcity has been a prominent issue in this village, particularly from Feb to May. Moreover, the leaders also don’t have any concerns regarding the issue. Once they get elected they turn their backs. There is one Amboli dam nearby and water from the dam is supplied to the town of Trambakeshvar but there is no alternative for Ganeshgao.


There are a few wells in the village, however they are either dry or do not have sufficient water to cater the needs of the village . Therefore, the only option left is to go to these wells in the night and fetch the water till dawn. The whole night, women continuously fetch water. As soon as one woman is done, another comes to take her place. If this fetching of water takes time, then children fall asleep hungry at night. Women in the village hardly sleep for 3 to 4 hours as in their remaining time, they are forced to fetch water and also carry the burden of household and farm related work.


Parallel to the water issues that the women deal with, they also suffer from various health issues like Anaemia, Irregular Menstruation, Malnutrition and Dizziness. If the wells do not have water, they don’t have any other alternative. The villagers have applied to the authorities several times, but the response from the authority has never been satisfactory. Authorities do temporary work and leave. The boys also help out in bringing water the whole day from long distances. They set their carts in the morning and come back in the evening. For a single drop of water they spend almost 4 to 5 hours. This is a complicated question. Currently the villagers are fighting with the government authority to implement relevant water schemes and activities as soon as possible.


The photo-essay “An Empty Gunda” (an empty water pot) portrays water scarcity problem of Ganeshgao. Through these photos the issues put forward that the problem of water scarcity is not a singular issue, rather it is connected to other issues intersectionally, with women, girl-child and young children.


The Village




Empty Well




The Walk Continues




The Generation journey




Vessels in Waiting




Education vs Survival




School or Water




Risking Life to Gain Life




Hiding in the Darkness




Determined Faces breaking through the Dark Night




How long will it last




Dirty Water or No Water




Prashant U.V is TISS Mumbai graduate, in Master's in Media and Cultural Studies. He is a documentary maker and photographer. His project 'Occupational Inheritance' was exhibited at The Institute for Endotic Research (TIER), Berlin, Germany. He also has been a JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) Fellow for a conference in Japan.


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