Everyday Mahi digs up parched riverbed and waits patiently. Slowly, the water swells up slowly, so does his heart. 

This has become a daily ritual for the young tribesman and his neighbours of Nelliyodu tribal colony at Kottiyoor in Kannur.  

Till recently, women used to leave homes early in the morning and fetch muddy water from the pits they dig on the Bavali river bed.  But now, as the intense heat made the task difficult, the families have put up tents near the river so that they don't have to take up long ardous walk in the scorching sun every day. 

If we wait for the project to bring us water, we all will die of thirst: Omana, a local resident.

As one walk into the parched Nelliodu colony, dry and dusty water taps can be seen in front of each home. These taps are grim reminders of a drinking water project that never delivered. 

"If we wait for the project to bring us water, we all will die of thirst. So it is better to stay close to the place where we get at least some drops to quench our thirst," says Omana, a local resident.

Around 20 families are depending on this fast-drying river for their daily needs and have moved in with their families to the temporary shacks. Now people belonging to other colonies have also started building huts close to the river.