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Water supply a problem for New Delhi's poor

Sept. 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- New Delhi's poor are hardest hit by the Indian city's inadequate water supply.

In most of the city's unauthorized urban settlements, such as Sangam Vihar -- a crowded unauthorized urban settlement, home to about a million people -- the city government does not provide piped water, The New York Times reports.

Instead, the government dug 118 bore-wells from which water can be drawn. Contractors, usually affiliated with political parties, have run pipes connecting the supply from the bore-wells to people's homes, for a fee. But those supplies are often dried up.

"Every family here has been given a voter identity card by the government," Anuj Porwal, a student-activist was quoted as saying in the Times report. "But no one has been given water supply."

Statistics from the city's government show Delhi's population of 17 million requires about 1.025 billion gallons of water a day. With six government-run water treatment plants producing 818 million gallons of water a day, the city faces an estimated shortage of 207 million gallons each day.

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, the official auditor of India's public sector, points to the disparity among Delhi's neighborhoods regarding water supply.

Residents of the influential, wealthy Nangloi Jat area, for example, receive about 59 gallons per person a day. But residents in poorer villages without political power and wealth, a few miles from Nangloi Jat, receive less than a gallon per person a day.

"The Delhi Jal Board neither has a proper measurement system to measure water supplied to different areas nor reliable data about the population in different areas to ensure equitable supply of water," the auditor's report states.

The report estimated about 4 million people in Delhi do not have piped water supply and rely on tanker water.

The Delhi Human Development Report 2013, released by the city's government last month, says that hours of waiting in lines at water points and fights around water tank trucks are a common sight in the slums of Delhi.

In Sangam Vihar, at least 500 people wait in line, typically women, to fill water each day from a water source inside a temple, the Times report notes.

"On some days close to a 1,000 people line up," Nandini Tiwari, the temple priest's wife, told the U.S. newspaper. "Women have cracked each other's skulls over water outside the temple."

Delhi's upper middle-class, however, can pay about $50 for a delivery of 1,320 gallons of water to fill up their home's depleted water tank, via private companies that are not authorized by the government.

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