Never-ending struggle for water

Once a girl’s family came to visit us, to see our house and ask for my son’s hand in marriage. In the middle of the meeting, we heard that the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) tanker is standing outside.

We were so elated that four of us — my son, daughter, wife and I ran outside with our empty water cans,” says a resident of Kusumpur Pahari.

The girl’s family decided not to take marriage proposal further saying that they won’t send their daughter to a house, where water shortage is not only a lifestyle and household problem, but literally a mental condition.

This is just a glimpse of the water problem that Kusumpur Pahari dwellers have been facing for the past 20 years. Notorious for being a hotbed of issues like crime, health, sanitation and housing, residents say that water is the only problem here.

“Every household receives 30 litres for one week,” Bubli tells Metrolife. “We don’t wash our clothes daily or take bath; most of the water is used in cooking and cleaning. If there are four members in the house, 30 litres get finished before a week,” she adds. But a friendly neighbour always donates them their water in times of need.

As DJB tankers come in and out, from nine in the morning to five in the evening, people stand in large clusters outside their blocks. They have been given roll numbers, according to house numbers. But everyone stands outside irrespective of whose number it is.

Kusumpur Pahari, which is also called Pahari is adjacent (three feet away) to a private school, and a huge DDA residential area in Vasant Vihar. There is a water supply pipeline which ends where the school ends, say the residents. Because, there can be no water pipeline in ‘unauthorised colonies’ in Delhi (which are 895 according to Department of Urban Development).

If one counts, each block fills around 220 cans of 30 to 40 litres each time. Bubli’s story seemed incomplete, from another block, Devendra says, “That people get water daily here. There are at least 25 to 30 tankers that come here every day according to their roll numbers. There is so much water that some people sell their water to their
neighbours.”

Apparently, the houses that are registered have daily tankers in their name. But they now have tenants and also new unregistered families living in a ghettoised manner. Some who have enough water for a day and more, before their water gets infected with insects and starts stinking, they sell it to others at a negotiable price, according to Devendra. He agrees that this is not true for all residents.

Seema from B block says, “We reuse water in the toilet and clean our home with dirty water, otherwise one cannot save this water. Two tankers come here in a week or two. We have to wait for the tanker from morning onwards.”

Also she fills in with another funny anecdote, “We can’t even go to a death ceremony in a family, if we come to know the tanker is coming to our house that day. Our relatives understand this problem.”

Seema says that in some other blocks the tankers wait and call people to come and fill their cans, but in her block they just go away if they get late.

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