Mathia is a village in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh, India. Traditionally, this village is divided into four parts – Dakhin Patti (southern part), Purub Patti (eastern part), Pachhim Patti (western part) and Dalit settlement(ex-untouchables). All three enclaves are dominated by people from the General Categories (mainly upper caste Hindu). There are no separate Patti for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). People from the Scheduled Castes (SCs or ex-untouchables or Dalit) is settled in the western corner of Mathia. Once this enclave was the periphery of the village. Increasing expansion of the OBCs overlapped caste-wise demarcation in Mathia. They have crossed the settlement of the Dalits and connected another village. Such new settlers collectively called as Taaltirha (people who are settled near the pond) in Mathia.
In development discourse, a great deal of ink has been consumed for natural resource management, sustainability and community-led development. Increasingly, institutions are expressing their concern about this. From time to time, they showcase a couple of success stories at their platform where everything seems perfect. Though, it’s not clear whether all such posts about natural resource management have changed anything in real lives. In other words, what’s going on at the ground level in Mathia is really disappointing.
In this village, there were 20 functional Kuwa (wells) in the 1990s and today there is only one functional Kuwa in the entire village. In the last decade, wells disappeared and no one is bothered about them. The case paints a gloomy picture of natural resource management.
Historically, the well enjoyed a respectable position in everyday village lives and several important rituals revolved around it. What went wrong? In this backdrop, three themes emerged: massive use of hand pumps, sheer lack of awareness and construction. In the last decade, the government distributed hand pumps which reduced dependency on well significantly and it lost its relevance. Unwillingly or willingly, people started ignoring. Small boys and girls started throwing waste. Initially, elderly people advised them to stop such ‘nefarious’ activities but they did not pay much attention to it.
Increasing diffusion of families contributed to cover the several Kuwas. After consulting with priests, couple of families closed Kuwas because they were not using it. In a village, people renovated a well but it was full of waste with no water. No one was interested to clean from inside.
Similarly, in this village, there were Talabs (ponds). Such ponds were owned by the entire village and some were owned by a couple of families. During the Kharif and Rabi seasons, influential farmers withdrew water for various crops from Talabs using diesel engines and tractors. No one complained when the water reduced. Though, it provided an opportunity to get fish free of cost. Over the last few years, uneven monsoons worsened the condition and Talabs dried up during the months of January-February. Using water resources responsibly is an issue which demands an active engagement of all households in a village. However, this seems like a distant dream at village level. With increasing need of water in agriculture and uneven rain during the monsoon season worsens the condition of water bodies. No one is bothered about sustainability and sustainable development in Mathia.
Excerpt from A Portrait of Rural India by Vivek Rai
 A Patti comprises various families from a caste and all families are from same pedigree. In Mathia, there are three different pedigrees.