It?s only April, and taps are running dry? | india | Hindustan Times
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It?s only April, and taps are running dry?

FOR RESIDENTS across large swathes of the City, getting their daily ration of water is sort of risking their lives. As people in parched localities battle it out for water, violence at community taps and tanker queues is becoming increasingly common.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 13:05 IST

FOR RESIDENTS across large swathes of the City, getting their daily ration of water is sort of risking their lives. As people in parched localities battle it out for water, violence at community taps and tanker queues is becoming increasingly common.

Water-related disputes have resulted in three serious clashes during last week alone. In at least two instances swords and other sharp-edged weapons were used to attack rival claimants to the life-giving liquid. Although shocking, the assaults

demonstrate the extent to which desperate residents are willing to go to lay their hands on a bucket or two of water. And, judging by the ineffectual alternative supply to scarcity areas, incidents of violence are bound to increase as the summer advances.

The anger at irregular tanker supply is clearly evident at Narwal, Sangam Nagar, Sanwer Road, Bhavani Nagar, Sugandha Nagar, Bajrang Nagar and other areas of Assembly segment No 1.

With no access to Narmada water and borewells having run dry, the localities are reeling under severe water scarcity. Residents say they have repeatedly complained to area corporators and local MLA Usha Thakur who promised alternative water supply arrangements would be made.

The promises have, however, proven as empty as the hundreds of vessels lined up in each side street and winding alley awaiting the arrival of water tankers. The residents have set up a watch schedule. So while eagle-eyed kids scout the streets for the water tankers during the day, elderly residents keep an eye out for the vehicles after sundown. As soon as the vivid red vehicle is sighted word spreads at lightning speed and large queues from around the tanker. Such is the demand that even the 12,000 litre capacity private tankers vehicles are drained within minutes.

Clearly suffering from want of water, the affected residents are, however, wary of venting their grievances to the media. “Teen din main ek baar tanker aata tha. Jab se fotu chhapi hai ek baar bhi nahin aaya”. (A tanker used to visit our locality once in three days, since the photo was published the visits have stopped), says a 60-something Narwala resident.

She is referring to a picture published in a vernacular daily that displayed large numbers of residents crowding around a tanker. The accompanying report recounted the desperate water shortage in the area. “Ab parshad kehti hai ki presswalon se shikayat ki unse hi paani lay lo.” (Now the corporator, ward 6 representative Suman Yadav, asks us to approach the media for water).

And thereby hangs another tale. Indore Municipal Corporation administration’s decision to let corporators decide where water tankers were to be sent has sparked a flurry of protests. Water, charges a Bajrang Nagar resident, is being used as a political tool.

“The corporator’s supporters have water delivered at their doorstep and that, too, at short notice. Whereas others have to wait for days on end,” charges a man requesting anonymity.

The allegation is, however, dismissed by Ward 6 corporator Suman Yadav. “Except for a very tiny patch, the ward has no areas with Narmada supply. With this in mind I had asked for five tankers but got only two. These vehicles supply water to 20,000 residents so obviously there will be some delays”.

Although admitting to water shortage, Assembly 1 MLA Usha Thakur declares that residents exaggerated the problem. “Five tankers have been pressed into service in the area for which I paid the IMC Rs 5 lakh from the MLA development fund,” she declares.

In addition, three 5,500 litre tankers were ordered which arrived, added the MLA. ‘‘Of these, one will be stationed outside my office while the other two will be hitched to tractors and used to supply water to rural areas,’’ said Thakur.

Says water tanker in-charge Assistant Engineer Abhay Rathore, ‘‘A total of 156 private tankers with a capacity of 12,000 litres and 35 IMC-owned tankers capable of carrying 8,000 litres have been pressed into service to supply to areas that do not have access to piped water. Each tanker averages five trips per day making a total of 1130 trips in all.

Waterless on Wednesday
MANY AREAS with no access to Narmada supply line had to go waterless on Wednesday after power supply to Khatipura sump tank was cut off from 9:30 am to nearly 5 pm. The sump tank feeds private and IMC-owned tankers that supply water to localities in wards 3,6,7,8 and 15 that do not have piped water supply. When contacted for the reasons behind the power cut Executive Engineer, MP Western Region Electricity Distribution Company, R K Sharma denied that that power to the sump tank was cut off.