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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Water supply hit in Delhi fringes after crackdown on mafia

Ritam Halder and Nivedita Khandekar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 07, 2014
First Published: 09:12 IST(7/2/2014) | Last Updated: 09:15 IST(7/2/2014)

In Sangam Vihar, a corner of the Capital’s southern fringes where development seems to have been lost in transition and civic amenities is a bad joke for most, the primary bane for people still remains water.

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The government’s seizure of illegal borewells didn’t see much criticism from the residents of this parched part of Delhi but the dwindling number of DJB tankers doing the rounds have definitely hit them hard.

“The borewells, which were earlier controlled by local people, are now being manned by AAP volunteers. This is fine. But the number of water tankers have decreased, which has hit our water needs hard,” another resident said.

But at some places the new system is working, activists said. Kiran Shaheen of the Right to Water campaign, said, “The mohalla committees formed after the illegal bore wells were taken over have brought about a change, albeit in a few pockets.

“People are now negotiating with the private tanker suppliers. For instance, if the earlier rate was `800 for 20,000 litres of water, now they are insisting on paying Rs. 550 or Rs. 600.”

At Rangpuri near Mahipalpur, the lack of water is evident from the nook and corner of this area with crammed houses, narrow and even muddy roads and scars of population explosion.

A private tanker operator said he collects water from the nearby DJB station for Rs. 100 and sells it for Rs. 300.

“It is just simple demand and supply. Nothing has changed. Crisis remains and our business flourishes,” the operator, who refused to be named, said.

Residents pointed to a DJB water line replacement project near Mata Chowk, which on paper has been completed. But reality is different.

“The board’s work progress report says the work had started on January 2, 2009, and was completed on the 15th. However, nothing has happened. These lies and scams are killing us,” Sanjay, a resident of Galli 15, said.

The new government, on its part, claims it is aware of the problem related to the absence of infrastructure. It has initiated steps to rectify the situation. During a meeting of DJB engineers, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal told them to chalk out plans to ensure water was delivered to the last person on the distribution network.

“Kejriwal told them not to worry about funds. He assured them he will get them money as much as needed. The engineers were asked to start work on the preparing action plan, especially in view of the approaching summer,” a government spokesperson said.

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