As Temperatures Soar, Severe Water Crisis Grips Delhi Areas


Residents of unauthorised colonies and JJ clusters demand an urgent solution

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – As temperatures soar to a scorching 47 degrees Celsius in parts of Delhi, residents of unauthorised colonies and JJ clusters continue to grapple with a severe water crisis, just days ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

In North Delhi’s Burari, daily life is a struggle for Shaligram Verma, Rama Shankar Gupta, and Prahlad Tripathi, who rely on water cans costing Rs 20 each due to the irregular and often contaminated water supply. “We get water once in two-three days, but it is not potable… only sometimes it is clean,” says Gupta.

Around 18 km away, in Central Delhi’s Baljeet Nagar, 63-year-old Suraj Singh waits for a water tanker to navigate the steep, narrow lanes of his neighbourhood. “Pipes have been laid in this area but water doesn’t reach us,” he laments. Like many in his community, Singh has to visit the concerned office every time the area needs a tanker.

The plight of residents in East Delhi’s Shakarpur is equally dire. Rajesh Choudhary describes the water quality in his area as abysmal. “The water is black and smelly like it’s being supplied straight out of sewer lines… You can’t drink it… we can’t even store it or use it for other purposes.” Despite his modest income from working at a tailoring shop, Choudhary’s family spends Rs 3,000-4,000 monthly on bottled water.

Delhi’s water crisis is exacerbated by the national capital’s dependence on neighbouring states for approximately 90% of its drinking water. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) sources raw water from the Yamuna River, the Ganga, the Ravi-Beas River, and groundwater, amounting to 953 million gallons per day (MGD), which falls short of the city’s estimated demand of 1,380 MGD. The DJB’s ‘Summer Action Plan 2024’ targets production of about 1,000 MGD of potable water by optimising all resources.

Despite claims in the Economic Survey of Delhi (2023-24) that 93.5% of households are connected to a piped water supply, issues persist. The report notes that 97% of unauthorised colonies have a regular water supply, with plans to cover the remaining areas soon.

In Southwest Delhi’s Naraina Vihar, water hardness is a significant problem. “Though visibly clean, the water is very hard, even soap doesn’t foam easily,” says 40-year-old Amit. This issue makes even basic hygiene challenging.

A visit to Southwest Delhi’s Masoodpur village reveals another persistent issue — pipe leakage. “Only half the supplied water reaches our taps, the rest is wasted due to leaking pipelines,” says a local government employee. Despite numerous complaints, fixes are slow.

Kiran Devi, a sweeper living in Central Delhi’s Motia Khan, struggles to make ends meet while ensuring her children receive proper education. “Only we know how we survive, doing odd jobs like cleaning and picking garbage to support our family… The water is not potable, but we have no other option but to consume it. We often fall sick as a result but what else can we do?” she asks.

The competition for water can sometimes turn deadly. Last month, in Northeast Delhi’s Shahdara, a 34-year-old woman was tragically stabbed to death following a quarrel over fetching water from a community tap.

As Delhi prepares to vote in the Lok Sabha elections, the pressing issue of water scarcity and quality remains at the forefront for many residents. Immediate and effective solutions are urgently needed to address these challenges and ensure a reliable water supply in all areas of the city.

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