Katara is a village in Bargaon Tehsil in Udaipur District of Rajasthan State, India. It can also be called a hamlet as it consists of about 125 homes and the population is about 800. In the last 5 years a township has started to form near Katara, it is approx. 3km away from the village and is known as Tiger Hills. The township consists of resorts, fancy restaurants and apartment buildings; everything is privately owned. Tiger Hills also has a Pratap Gaurav Kendra Rashtriya Tirtha, which is a tourist spot. For its inauguration, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew in and a helipad was build for the same purpose.
As part of our fellowship’s induction training, a group of us were given Katara as our village for visit. On the first day when a kind man from the village was driving us back to our stay, we passed by Tiger Hills and we were curious as to how the people of Katara perceived the township. On our fourth day when we were asked to do an investigative piece, we decided to pick Tiger Hills and the question we wanted to answer was How do people of Katara feel about Tiger Hills?
We wanted to know how did the villagers feel about a township being built just few kilometers from a village they have stayed in generations for and they are bringing their children up. The first person we spoke to was *Mr. Omi Suthar, he is a carpenter, who works from his own house and sells his work in the city. He told us, no contract was given to the villagers when the resorts and apartments were being constructed and all the labor was from outside of Katara. He also informed us that now the roads are directly connected to the village, which is giving easier access to burglars and there has been some crimes recorded in the village. He didn’t have any strong sentiments about Tiger Hills and seemed indifferent towards it. This was a trend in most of the conversations we had about Tiger Hills, people were neutral to it and no one really showed any concern about land being sold and new buildings and resorts coming near the village.
*Helly Bai, a woman who owns a small shop in the village, told us she has a land in Tiger Hills and she was very happy about it. While in conversation with *Mr. Sharma who is a civil engineer, we also found out that no engineers or people from the village were consulted when the township started coming up, almost 5 years ago. Mr. Sharma also said he believes Katara would itself not remain a village in the next 5 years and would come under the Udaipur Mahanagar Pallika. He also raised this concern about the roads, he said now it’s easier for the wild animals to come into the farms and they often spoil the harvest, which leads to the farmers getting frustrated and angry.
Katara is a village with financial security, almost everyone has land and most families work in the marble business, women are seamstress and tuition teachers, 80% of the kids go to private school, so the village is not facing issues related to finances but one major issue they are facing is water supply. Not all houses are getting water, some people have their own boring system, others have a pumped well system, which is operated by *Mrs. Hema, a resident of the village who takes Rs. 50 every month to operate the pump and people who can’t afford any of these have to walk to wells and hand pumps for their water consumption. Another big issue is the drinking water supplied there; it has too much chlorine in it, which leads to throat infections. A lot of family’s buy bottled water but not all can afford that luxury. Katara doesn’t have a piped water system, the pipes have been installed till the government school but they don’t work. Whereas Tiger Hills has a completely piped system and gets a good water supply from the government. A township that was build 5 years ago gets water; the village just 3km away is still struggling with.
Does a village that is struggling with a basic necessity, have time to comprehend the idea of a township coming near them?
Are the people of Katara indifferent to Tiger Hills because of their inability to think about the consequences it will have on their village and lives? The people of Katara need clean drinking water and a proper water supply system. That’s their need of the hour, they haven’t thought about Tiger Hills in depth and the effect it would have on their community and village. Their cognitive thinking ability, or call it second order thinking, is reduced due to the stress in their lives today because of water and how they will get their daily supply, once that gets solved. But then the question arises, what if it is too late and by the time the villagers wake up to Tiger Hills having an affect on their village, Katara itself is being called Tiger Hills?