By Shams Qari @shamsqari
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Water consumption in the capital city of India remains highest in the country.
The continuous supply of water from the Ganga Canal, the western Yamuna canal, the Bhakra canal and the perennial river Yamuna fills the demand of capital.
While more than three quarters of the total water provided to the city comes from Yamuna, the high levels of contamination and shrinkage of this river leaves the migrants and people living in the slums with extreme scarcity of water.
Pawan Babu, a labourer living in the slums near Yamuna said: “We mostly depend on the water from borewells provided by the government. But that water is so unclean that our children fall sick whenever we use it.
“We do not want our children to consume this water but we do not have a choice. What else will they drink? It is not possible for us to afford bottled water.”
While the Delhi government claim to be steadfast in constructing borewells in the those areas, locals allege that the borewells are controlled by government influenced people who let them use it only when they deem necessary.
Mukesh Yadav, a man who controls a borewell in Sangam Vihar, said: “I cannot let them use the groundwater too much. If even this supply exhausts all of will fall short of options.
“We are seen as bad people but we control these borewells for the betterment of our people.”
Delhi Jal Board, a government agency constituted in 1998, is responsible for supplying portable water supply to most parts of the city. Nearly all the slums of region depend on this supply of water.
Hashim Mohammad, a cardboard-seller in Paharganj Slum said: “For days, we don’t have water supply. We suffer but nobody cares. The Jal Board comes only when there is too much pressure from us.
“I have to close down my shop for hours to be in line and wait for the water. We store that in drums and use it for as long as we can.”
Locals question the Delhi’s water body’s supply tankers and believe that only those who pay a ransom get hold of water.
“We cannot afford to pay money every now and then. There is a water mafia going on but authorities hardly bother to pay attention to it,” another resident of Okhla slum in south Delhi said.
Out of the 900 million gallons of water that the Delhi Jal Board distributes every day, 540 million gallons is sourced from Haryana.
During the Jat agitation in February, in this neighbouring state, the water supply to the capital was affected for over 15-days as the people of Haryana had blocked the canal in protest.