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And now, murder over water

This summer, Hyderabad has seen its first case of murder over water. Along with long queues at handpumps and frayed tempers, this summer seems interminably long for the 'hi-tech' city. And apparently the worst is yet to come. Can Hyderabad overcome this chronic shortage in its quest to become world city?

india Updated: Jun 11, 2003 11:30 IST

This sprawling city of more than five million people witnesses 2 murders on an average daily, but the murder of Karim, a provision store owner in Moulali, a city suburb, on May 10 was the first of its kind.

A woman stands on the dry bed of Osman Sagar Lake in Hyderabad.

Karim's was the first case of murder over sharing of drinking water. At around 9 pm as Karim was about to close his shop and go home, five young men, all living in the neighborhood dragged him out and repeated stabbed him, killing him on the spot. The reason: Karim built a sump at a lower level and was drawing more water for himself, depriving others of the now precious liquid.

Police have arrested the five and booked cases against them.

Though this is first case of murder reported over sharing of water, violent incidents pertaining to sharing of water in summer months is becoming a common feature in the city, especially in the summer months. People often stand in queues for almost half a day to have their turn at the water taps and when somebody tries to break the queue, tempers fly high.

Declining availability: According to Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSB), which looks after the water supply, the city's presentrequirement is 240 million gallons a day (mgd), calculated onthe basis 114 litres per capita per day. In normal years the supply is only 187 mgd, which included 25 mgd tapped from deep borewells, thus accounting for a shortfall of 53 mgd.

However, the situation this year is really bad. Due to the failure of monsoon in 2002, Osmansagar, one of the four reservoirs that supply water to the city, have driedup. The water level in other three, Himayatsagar, Manjira and Singur have reached rock bottom. Despite some contingency measures like commissioning of a sump and pump house at Singur, which yields 5 mgd extra, the water supply from all sources is only 130 mgd.

Since the available water is just fifty per cent of the actual requirement, a rationing is on. Water supply is restricted to just one hour every alternative day. The per capita supply has been reduced from 114 litres to 87 litres. There are other problems too. As the city has an undulating topography, many localities on higher elevations do not get water or get very little as the pressure is not enough.

First Published: Jun 07, 2003 17:07 IST