Delhi: City thirsts and tanker mafia rules as politicians play blame game
It's Delhi's water emergency. And it has left lakhs of people seething with anger this summer, even in the gated communities. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is supplying 900 MGD (million gallons a day) of water, against a peak demand of 1,200 MGD, resulting in a massive shortage.
And it's not just that. Those lucky to get some water in this scorching heat complain of sewage in the taps. DJB's tanker supplies are also falling hopelessly short, triggering clashes and allowing the water mafia to thrive, even more, India Today TV's city-wide ground report revealed on Friday.
"It's appalling that we cannot even get a commodity as basic as water. We are forced to buy bottled water that's costing Rs 300 a day," said a resident of South Delhi's Chhatarpur.
Tanker supplies are insufficient in adjoining areas such as Deoli, Govindpuri and Sangam Vihar like every summer. Najafgarh is receiving water only around 3-4 am. Even this supply is often disrupted or mixed with sewage.
Bharat Vihar, Sainik Nagar, Mansa Ram Park, Sevak Park and Dwarka are reeling under reduced supplies and low-pressure crises. In East Delhi's Chilla, residents could be seen waiting for DJB's tanker. They returned disappointed as none came.
"Yesterday, I didn't get water because a scuffle broke out and I cannot fight like others. It's been two days without clean drinking water," said a woman, holding two buckets. A tanker arrived at Trilok Puri and there was mayhem. Women and men hit each other with buckets, while children jostled to fill cans. "We don't want to depend on tankers. The government must find a way," said a woman.
"We have lost jobs because a lot of time is spent on collecting water," said another. Last summer, water brawls left three people dead in Delhi.
In Mayur Vihar Phase 2, residents complained they are getting muddy water. "Evening water is so dirty. Even the RO machine cannot clean it," said Sangeeta, a homemaker. "This has caused waterborne ailments in our family," said Ram Raina.
Social activists in the area said several complaints by the RWA to the Delhi government haven't led to any action. Jagat Puri residents could be seen filling water from public taps on roads. One cancer patient, an elderly man, walked down the street to fill water. The crisis is more acute where migrant workers live.
"Tanker supply is irregular and tap water is dirty. Several complaints have been given to the MLA, but nothing has happened," said Sonu Pandit.
Water was one of the issues that helped AAP sweep the Assembly elections in 2015. So a blame-game politics over the crisis was natural. BJP workers held a protest outside Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence on Friday.
Senior party leader Vijender Gupta demanded the AAP government must come out with a White Paper on its "failure" to deal with the worsening crisis. "DJB has failed to cover the demand-supply gap through piped or tanker supplies. Kejriwal must immediately solve the crisis," he said.
"Instead of putting an end to tanker mafia menace, the government has increased the number of tankers. Poor people are forced to buy water from these tankers," said a Congress leader.
ARVIND KEJRIWAL'S OUTREACH
Kejriwal has been visiting neighbourhoods, promising to people that the crisis would be solved soon. In South Delhi's Deoli on Saturday last, he directed officials to find private tankers, book and jail them.
"I have given strict orders to DJB to ensure nobody has to pay for tanker water. DJB will send as many tankers as required," he had said. On Thursday, he told
Badarpur's residents in South Delhi that they will start getting Ganga water in their taps within a week. Experts say the city has sufficient water, but as high as 45% of it is lost to spillages and thefts. They say Delhi must revive its water bodies and storm drains (being lost to brazen illegal concretisation, garbage dumping and sewage disposal), store rainwater, and recycle and reuse its waste water.
(With inputs from Sushant Mehra)