india pipe
Two boys fill a container with drinking water from a leaking pipe in Noida in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Reuters

Armed bandits in northern India are threatening villagers with death unless they deliver 35 buckets of water a day.

So far, 28 villages have been taking turns to deliver what the bandits call a "water tax", but Suresh Kumar Singh in the city of Banda told Associated Press reporters that recent droughts and poor supply lines are making the deliveries increasingly difficult.

The region, which is on the southern border of Uttar Pradesh state, has faced severe droughts since 2007, with the annual monsoon bringing just 26 rainy days each year – half of what is expected.

A local charity worker Bagwat Prasad said the petrified villagers have begun hauling water into the forests and mountain areas.