Seven years ago, farmer Arshad Ali started digging a tube well in Charanwala village in the Nachana area of Jaisalmer district, about 50 km from the border with Pakistan. At the depth of 560 feet, he struck water - so forcefully did it flow out that it was impossible to stop it. Today, his fields remain flooded and he has been draining water into nearby fields too.
Ali says his experience is not unique. Across a 60sq km area in the district, water seems to be flowing in abundance, he said. The pressure of the flow has not diminished with time. Pipes would burst if attempts were made to control the flow. A similar gush of water flowed into the fields of Ismail Khan, who also lives in the same area.
At least 10 tube wells have been dug in the area, and water has been gushing out with great force. At Poonam Nagar in Jaisalmer, villagers have decided to build a temple at the spot. However, at a time when 33 crore people in the country reel under drought and water is enormously scarce in many parts, the government has done little to test or harness the water gushing out of such 'springs'.
A year ago, former Jaisalmer district collector Giriraj Singh Kushwaha had requested the state government to plan for utilisation of this water.
In October 2005, the ONGC Board had approved Rs1.7 crore for a pilot study to uncover the course of the Saraswati, the "mighty river" mentioned in the Rig Veda. By 2007, the ONGC had dug some wells and water was found in parts of Jaisalmer, at a depth of over 550 metres, the deepest level at which wells had been dug in this region.
While many historians and scientists contest claims that Saraswati was ever more than a mythical river, there are those who claim the sacred texts are corroborated by imagery from ISRO satellites.