Morning water seller is alarm clock

Residents of Delhi's better-off colonies  have hardly seen real water scarcity. The real problem is in unauthorised colonies.

Jamia Nagar in south-east Delhi is one of the worse-hit colonies. This is a place where residents get woken up early morning not by the alarm clock, but by the shrill voice of someone selling drinking water in 20-litre containers.

If any resident misses the chance in the morning to buy water, the household will have to get potable water from the shops.

The 20,000 kilolitre a month free water scheme announced by the former Aam Aadmi Party government is not applicable here as the area is not covered by Delhi Jal Board's piped supply.

Instead, every household has a water pumping set to extract groundwater.

“The groundwater that we extract is a form of hard water and it is not drinkable. It can be used only for cooking, washing and other purposes. The entire area is totally dependent on private water distributors,” Shaheen Bagh resident Hamid Qureshi says.
Many residents have installed heavy-duty water purifiers at their homes but they have to change the filters frequently.

“What’s the point in installing an electronic water purifier worth Rs 10,000 when we have to change the filter worth Rs 4,000 once or twice a year. We have tried all these tactics but the easiest way to have drinking water is to buy it from a trustworthy distributor,” a student of Jamia Millia Islamia University and local resident Roshanara says.
Though extracting underground water is illegal, it is the only way residents can meet their daily needs.

“Water is a basic necessity of a human being. No law is strong enough to prevent a person from drinking water. It is a natural resource and every living thing has a right to it. We even water our plants. If the government is not able to provide safe drinking water to residents of this area, they have full rights to consume water by any means,” RTI activist from Jamia area Zahid Abbas says. “This cannot be termed as an illegal act.”

“If there is an unplanned power outage in our area, we cannot switch on our water pumping sets and we will not get water for daily household needs. The government has to do something very soon. If they don’t think about it, the underground water level will dip and we will not be able to extract it,” he adds.

Residents of the area also accuse local leaders for not getting things done.

“The problem with the leaders of this area is that they always seek votes over the Batla House encounter and terrorism charges against some Jamia University students, but they never see what is the core problem of this area,” he says.

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