Few water points: Lucknow’s commuters go thirsty - Hindustan Times
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Few water points: Lucknow’s commuters go thirsty

By, Lucknow
Jun 06, 2024 10:48 PM IST

Long stretches of main roads, through posh residential and commercial areas have only one or two water kiosks

As the mercury continues to break heat records, it is the man on the street – hawkers, small vendors, rickshaw-pullers, e-rickshaw drivers - who bears its brunt. Labouring under an unforgiving sun, the most needed is water, but there are only a few places in the city, along select routes, where it can be found.

There is a lack of drinking water facilities for labourers and people who conduct their business or spend their days on the road. (Deepak Gupta/HT)
There is a lack of drinking water facilities for labourers and people who conduct their business or spend their days on the road. (Deepak Gupta/HT)

Gone also are the days when citizens of Lucknow – known for generosity – would set up public water kiosks (peaaos) each summer for the weary traveller and for citizens alike. Now, there’s hardly anyone offering water to those on the streets.

Sample this. The 5 km stretch from Polytechnic Crossing to Civil Hospital, crossing Lohia Path, has just one water kiosk set up by an NGO.

And the scene is pretty much the same throughout the state capital.

Team HT took stock of water needs and availability on different roads and spoke to people on the street.

Street vendors in various pockets of Vishal Khand, Vivek Khand and Vineet Khand of Gomti Nagar said having no access to potable water is a big issue, which they face daily.

Rickshaw-puller Roshan said that except the Nagar Nigam zone 4 office, there is no other place to get water.

“I usually take water from parks, as there is no water facility provided by the government in Gomti Nagar. When I come early in the morning, I carry two bottles with me,” said Mohammed Fayaz, a street vendor in Vivek Khand.

Deepak, a coconut water-seller in Vishal Khand said, “I usually carry a bottle of water with me but that soon gets empty.” The hospital opposite where he stands (St Joseph’s Hospital) doesn’t allow them to take the water from the premises. And there is no other facility of water here,” he said.

Similar is the case in Vibhuti Khand, Gomti Nagar. Much like the rest of Gomti Nagar and the Extension, apart from a handful of private or corporate-owned water filters, no water kiosks can be seen.

Despite being an area with commercial buildings and housing complexes, local street vendors and auto drivers do not have any source of clean drinking water, unless they purchase it at Rs. 10 or above. The 1090 stretch, and the roads leading into the residential localities near Fun Mall and Sangeet Natak Akademi are no different.

Rajat Jaiswal, of the e-rickshaw association of Lucknow, said that drivers suffer from the lack of water facilities along routes. “Our drivers are getting sick frequently. They are getting dehydrated or getting an upset stomach. A driver recently collapsed,” he said

E-rickshaw technician, Monu, who was recently discharged from Lok Bandhu Hospital said, “I fell sick. I was vomiting endlessly and became so weak that I could not move. When I was admitted, the doctors said these were symptoms of the heat-related illnesses.”

A tap of hope on Faizabad Road

Starting from Matiyari Crossing of Faizabad to Polytechnic Crossing near Indira Nagar, the entire 4.5 kilometers does not have a single water kiosk except a tap facility with water cooler provided by Parijat Apartments outside its campus.

A drive-through on busy Faizabad Road to crosscheck, found men standing with bottles outside Parijat Apartment. “A water cooler fitted inside the campus with a tap which opens outside the boundary was made available for passers-by,” said Harsh Bardhan Singh of Parijat apartment.

“There is not a single place in the whole Faizabad Road where I drive every day. This tap water facility came up last year, bringing some relief,” said Rudra Pal, a daily e-rickshaw-puller. “There should be more such facilities on the road as we are bound to buy cold water bottles as the bottles we carry get too hot to drink,” he added.

Another rickshaw-puller, Bablu Rao, said that he must often wait hours for passengers before crossing this place. “Whenever I come here, I fill 2-3 bottles of water,” he added.

Shaheed Path flyover

Off the Shaheed Path flyover at Ansal Golf City, be it on the side of Lulu Mall, or Arjunganj, and towards the Police Headquarters, there isn’t a single water kiosk in sight. The road along the HQs as well as the parallel roads with a number of residential complexes, are completely without water kiosks: whether subsidised or free drinking water facilities set up by the district administration.

Getting off the flyover at this point leaves commuters with only the small shops outside the two malls to purchase water, or cross over via the underpass to the more inexpensive shops on the other side of the flyover. However, not everyone can pay 10 - 20 for bottled water.

The entire stretch along the Police Headquarters, to Omaxe housing societies, Delhi Public School and UP Institute of Design and Research, is completely devoid of water kiosks. Hundreds of auto drivers and rickshaw pullers who frequent these locations, cannot enter the residential or shopping establishments for water.

Khurram Nagar to Engineering College intersection

On the Khurram Nagar stretch, which goes straight towards the Engineering College Intersection, there are several street vendors and rickshaw pullers who work there.

The Lucknow Municipal Corporation recently set up a water kiosk at the Khurram Nagar intersection, but there is no water facility on the whole stretch till Engineering College. Several people take water from the nearby shop owners.

A rickshaw puller, Ram Kumar, said that while taking goods from one place to another, “several times we don’t get water. Often after request, residents permit us to fill water from their houses or taps on apartment campuses.”

Another street vendor, Vijay, said, “I come from the Vasant Kunj area. I sell goods worth 400 on average with which I take care of my family. Sometimes, I stay thirsty to save money as the bottle I bring from my home gets empty soon. The water facility provided by the LMC is at the intersection, which is 2 km from where I stand, he said.

A rickshaw-puller, Khursheed, said that the facility provided by the LMC is not bad; it’s a good move by the department, but setting up one water kiosk is not enough. “Some people come and help us by giving us water bottles, but the rest of the time we must go thirsty,” he said.

Sarju Chauhan, 56, a bus driver said, “The routes of the bus go through well developed areas like eldeco complexes, but with little to no provision of getting water. There is only one water kiosk on the route, with no cups to drink from, and there is no update to know when it is refilled.”

Water only at bus stands, rly stns

Water coolers and kiosks are available largely only at the bus stops (Qaiserbagh, Charbagh, Alambagh ISBT), and the railway stations. They are few and not accessible to all. Privately owned water coolers at Shastri Nagar near Kalyankari Ashram, run by the Durga Mandir authorities, as well as another near IT College and another at Parivartan Chowk, which are active during the summer, provide respite to commuters who are in the vicinity.

‘If there’s a need, LMC will set up water kiosks’

Municipal commissioner Inderjit Singh said, “The LMC has installed over 400 submersible tanks at various locations in the city, providing round-the-clock access to fresh water for anyone in need. A number of water coolers have been placed at every bus station and major taxi stands in collaboration with NGOs.

“While the water coolers have been donated by NGOs, the LMC has provided the necessary space and electricity to operate them. This partnership aims to ensure that commuters and travellers have access to cool drinking water. The LMC is providing space to NGOs to set up Peaaos at more than 40 locations in the city.”

Singh also assured residents that if there are specific routes or areas where water kiosks are needed, the LMC will set them up. He said, “Yes, if there are some routes where anyone wants water kiosks to be set up, then the LMC will surely do it. After all, we are here to serve the masses.”

(With inputs from Sreya Deb, Aakash Ghosh and Animesh Mishra)

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