Eighty five-year-old Kamakshi Purohit made a dash outside with all the empty containers that she could lay her hands on. A DJB water tanker had made its way to Todapur for the first time in four days and she did not want to miss it.
“I have three grandchildren all aged under 10. It is very difficult to manage without water. There was no one at home, so I thought I will fill as many containers as I can,” said Purohit, panting as she wrestled with her neighbours to get her share of water.
Delhi’s water crisis has been particularly unkind to the people of west Delhi and it keeps getting worse.
The damaged Munak canal — which was severely damaged by Jat protesters demanding reservations in Haryana, is the sole source of water for many colonies in west Delhi. Janakpuri, Inderpuri, Uttam Nagar, Todapur and Dwarka are now grappling with a severe water shortage.
Though the DJB has claimed that more than 700 tankers are doing the rounds in these parched areas, residents claimed that several colonies were yet to see a tanker.
“I have not spotted any tanker pass my area in the last few days. We have been surviving on stored water but it will only last for one more day,” said Sudheer Kumar, a resident of Janakpuri C-II block.
For some residents, the problem was more complex. Residents of Madhu Vihar, for example, have been drinking discarded water after storing it till its impurities settle. They then boil it to make it drinkable.
“What else do we do? There is no water available. Despite boiling, the water is bitter. We try not to give it to our children,” said Sunder Singh, a resident.
He said that the demand for water in the area is so high that almost no shops in the vicinity had any bottled water remaining.
The few that did were taking advantage of the desperation of residents. A bottle of water, which otherwise cost Rs 20, is being sold for as much as Rs 100.
Sunder Singh’s lane has two houses that have bore wells.
“In the morning their bore was connected with at least a dozen pipes going to each of our houses,” he said.
In many private societies of Dwarka, judicious use of water has helped residents survive for now.
“We have a common tank which we keep filled. The water from this common tank is generally kept for emergency. We have been distributing water from the tank and also letting out water from the submersible,” said the security officer of a private society in Dwarka.
Residents steal water from neighbours to make ends meet
A resident of Dwarka Sector 2 woke up early on Tuesday and rushed down to his garage where the water tank of his house is installed.
After a quick look around to ensure no one was watching him, he reached over to his neighbour’s tank nearby, opened it and poured out two buckets of water.
The man, a chartered accountant in a reputed firm, had never thought that he would have to steal water to meet basic household needs.
But the situation, he said, was so bad that water theft had starting to become quite common in many colonies in the sub city.
“We have not got water for the last three days and I had no other option but to take some from my neighbour’s tank. I was ashamed but later found that a number of other people were looking at their neighbours’ tanks also,” he said.
To save water from being stolen by neighbours, many residents have locked up their tanks and garages.
“I understand the desperation of people because the colony has not received water for over two days now. But stealing water is a shameful thing to do. We have been judiciously using water so that we don’t run out of it and have to steal,” said Arunendra Verma, a resident of sector-2 Dwarka.
In some places, the lack of water supply had also turned strangers into comrades.
Some residents who have borewells in their home have turned good samaritans and have been sharing water with their neighbours.
“Last evening, we did get tap water for 10-15 minutes. But, it was not usable. Our neighbour has come to our rescue. It was bit of an exercise, but we managed to connect his
tank through a pipe to our balcony and filled our buckets and tubs. We are buying bottled water to drink,” said Shilpi, a resident of Milap Nagar in west Delhi.