It’s a summer morning and a Gurgaon resident is hurriedly uncoiling a hose and fetching buckets before a private water tanker arrives with the supply for the day. The tankers come at an exorbitant rate but one cannot do without water.
Welcome to the Millennium City where there is no disparity between the rich and poor when it comes to the daily struggles for water.
“Despite paying a huge sum for private tankers, we still struggle to get supply and these tankers often refuse to provide water during peak summer days,” Dhruv Kapoor of Sector 31 said.
Delhi’s corporate neighbour Gurgaon is expanding horizontally and vertically and looks poised to keep the momentum going. But, all tall claims aside, Gurgaon’s government agencies have a reprehensible history of providing basic amenities.
Water shortage has become a daily affair in Gurgaon and the demand-supply gap is 21 million gallons per day (MGD).
However, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) claims that it supplies water sufficient for the city’s population, pegged at around 15 lakh, as per the 2011 Census.
But, unofficial figures estimate the population to be around 20 lakh. A report released by the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) in June said Gurgaon will have a population of 69 lakh by 2031, up from the projected 43 lakh once the proposed Transit Oriented Development policy comes into effect.
Gurgaon’s water demand is almost 51% higher than the supply as per a Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) report.
Residents say that though the demand increases every year, the supply is still what it used to be three years ago. “I don’t think the authorities will be able to solve the problem this year either. We face this situation every summer,” Gopal Ram of Sector 40 said.
A majority of sectors are dependent on the Huda that has two water treatment plants — at Basai and Chandu Budhera.
During the water crisis in June, the supply fell short after a pipeline near Basai was damaged and the Chandu Budhera plant shut down because of erratic power supply. Despite the prolonged crisis, neither the urban authority nor the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) has been able to find a solution.
Taking cognizance of the situation, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced that old and rusted pipes will be replaced soon.
Gurgaon MLA Umesh Agarwal, who inspected the water treatment plants, asked the DHBVN to dedicate an exclusive power line to the plants so that the issue of outages is resolved.
Huda administrator Yashpal Yadav told HT, “We are setting up a separate substation for the water treatment plants and it will resolve the problem.”
The assurances are little solace for residents who say they are on their own in times of crisis. “We have to get up around 2am to switch on the motor to pump water. We have no idea when the authorities are going to fix the problem,” Praveen Gupta of Sector 14 said.