300 families survive on 'undrinkable' water

300 families survive on 'undrinkable' water

Vasant Kunj slum dwellers walk miles to fetch water

Out of around 300 families at the slum located near the posh Vasant Kunj area at the Nelson Mandela Marg majority of the families have been drinking water which the Delhi Jal Board has branded as unfit for drinking.

According to the residents, the slum did not get any piped water supply for four years. “The water supply started few months back somewhere near Holi. Though the borewell water supply was installed in winters, the water was released a couple of months back,” said Sunita, resident and a grocery shop owner in the slum.
There is a board put up by the DJB just outside the slum which says, 'This water is undrinkable'. The residents said the board was put up two months back.

“They put up this board and asked us not to take water for drinking. But we still drink it. When there was no drinking water available we bought water from the public urinal for Rs five per five litres. For many like me, who could not afford to buy water, used to walk till Munirka or areas near Jawaharlal Nehru University to get water for free. Now we drink water available in the slum,” said Ramesh Kumar, rickshaw-puller and resident of the slum.

The public urinal opens for two-three hours in the morning and few hours in the evening.

Residents said the urinal has a different water supply line.

Many like Aslam have now stopped walking long distances to get free drinking water.

“The water tastes fine. People say if we keep drinking this water we will get cancer. However, I feel there is nothing wrong with the water. They still want us to keep buying drinking water from that public urinal. We anyway have to pay Rs four for taking bath in the urinal,” said Laxmi, another resident.

With most of the elders going out for work, it is mostly the children who are given the responsibility to fetch water.

"The official who put up the board said within six months of drinking this water, we may get cancer. I ask my children to get water from neighbouring localities. It is risky for them walking such long distance alone so we ask  them to go in groups," said Reema.

The public urinal was constructed by the orders of the local minister. But look at the situation of the urinal, it is never cleaned.

There are flies everywhere. We do not know where should we go. If this water is poisonous then the urinal water is expensive, added Laxmi.

Sunita said if the water is kept out in the open for few hours, it gets a thick layer of oil like substance over it.

“If DJB says the water is unfit for drinking then it must be undrinkable. There is a different department which tests water and we cannot tell you regarding the findings,” said Sanjam Chima, a DJB spokesperson.