In 8 years, a Maruti 800’s price spent on drinking water

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times

Had the Bishts settled down in Central Delhi or even Mayur Vihar, they would have had a spare car in the garage by now. But their decision to make Dwarka their home eight years ago has cost them roughly Rs 2 lakh towards packaged drinking water. “We buy our drinking water, which is very costly. DDA had promised us four hours of water supply a day, but we don’t get even an hour’s supply regularly,” said Virender Singh Bisht, resident of DDA flats in Sector 14. At Rs 70 for 20 litres, packaged water works out as expensive as the monthly electricity bill —Rs 1500-2000 —for a typical family of four adults. However, in Dwarka, unless a housing society has its own reverse osmosis (RO) filtration plant, residents are constrained to buy potable water at steep rates
CAN BRUSH OR FLUSH Not just drinking water, Dwarka is short of water for all purposes. Against its requirement of 10 million gallons (MGD) a day (3.8 crore litres or 19 lakh bathroom buckets), it gets only about 3.5 MGD from Delhi Jal Board.The average daily water availability in the sub-city is around 50 litres per person — just enough to flush the toilet five times. You can either bathe, wash clothes or flush the loo, but not all in the same day. Given the acute shortage of water, residents have to depend on private water tankers that charge Rs 600-1200 for a tanker-load
ADAPTING TO SURVIVE Guests upset homemaker Rajinder Kaur’s water budget
“You start keeping count of every glass of water anyone in the house consumes, and plan your life accordingly,” said Kaur
Her 16-year-old daughter is betrothed to the booster pump. She cannot step out in the evenings as “someone has to be at home to switch on the pump for storing whatever little water’s supplied.”
Sector 14 resident SS Chauhan works nights. But he knows no rest during the day either. The airline official often comes home to find the taps dry. He then spends half the day arranging for water through private tankers. “Since my house is on the top floor, even the booster pump is useless when the water pressure is weak. So, my wife and two children often go without water through the night.”

BUCK DOESN’T STOP Water supply to Dwarka is managed by two agencies — Delhi Jal Board (DJB) supplies water to Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which distributes it to the residential blocks. Regarding the 65 per cent shortfall in availability of water, DJB says Dwarka came into existence without planning (DDA’s responsibility) for the supply of water. However, DDA washes its hands of the crisis by claiming that supplying water is not its responsibility.

Ramesh Negi, Delhi Jal Board chief executive officer spoke to Neelam Pandey

‘People need to find solution themselves’

A family of four in Dwarka does not get more than 200 litres of water per day while a similar household in any other part of the city consumes up to 1,000 litres. Is this fair?
It might be the case. Equitable distribution of water is a big problem in Delhi and it is a technical problem that needs to be resolved. There are two related issues: topography is one and booster pumps installed by residents is the other. There are areas in Vasant Vihar where water tanks overflow and there is wastage of water. There is an imbalance in demand and supply of water. Dwarka needs 10 MGD water but we are able to supply only 3-3.5 MGD to DDA.

Isn’t DJB, the sole water utility of the city, shirking its responsibility by not supplying water to Dwarka?
Arranging water is our responsi- bility, but DDA has to lay internal system sewers and pipelines. Dwarka does not come under our jurisdiction. DDA was told we would provide water to Dwarka once its water treatment plant became functional. Work on the plant started three months ago. Once it is operational, 40 MGD water will be provided.

But even the water you supply is brackish and totally unfit for consumption
In fact, a number of societies in Dwarka have set up their own water treatment plants to clean it
This is quite a practical solution. Migration is one big reason for the scarcity of water in Delhi and people have to come up with their own solutions. People are pouring into this city every day. But water agreements are made for years, so we can’t change them every other day.

The water tankers you provide are inadequate
Tankers cannot take up the role of regular water supply.

What is the solution?
The problem will be solved by December 2010, once the Dwarka water treatment plant becomes functional. But Delhiites need to learn from the people of Chennai and Bangalore, where water is supplied every alternate day

How does delayed construction of Munak Canal impact Dwarka?
Nearly 80 per cent of work on the canal is over and water is getting stored. Ideally, Dwarka should get water from the canal, but Haryana is not allowing DJB access to this water. The issue has got politicised. Haryana has given us a new deadline of September 2009 for completing the canal.