When It All Began
Back in 1995, there was a dire shortage of drinking water in my area (an unauthorised colony) People used to say that water should soon be available as the government was planning to regularise such colonies.
One of our family friends used to live around 1.5 kilometres away from my place, and they were lucky enough to get water supply twice a day. He allowed me to fetch drinking water from his house. Since I was not in a position to buy a bicycle, I had to carry a gallon of 20 litres in my hands. That used to be a humiliating experience-carrying 20 litres of water for around 3 kilometres, daily. In the sun, in the rain, in the bitter cold – all year round.
Water Shortage in Delhi Since I Could Remember
Sometimes I used to wonder if the city I was living in really the capital of India. To my disappointment, it was. It was New Delhi, the capital of India-with no drinking water available to countless people like me.
Quite often when I could not visit our family friends’ house, I used to have two options-either buy water from illegal water mafia or try my luck to fetch water from an unauthorised water-fetching point. That point was around 2 kilometres away from my place. It was a breach in the main water pipeline carrying water to some faraway place. By that time I had managed to buy a second-hand bicycle.
Fetching water from that point, even on my bicycle, used to be a nightmare. Illegal water mafia had a strong presence at that point. There used to be a long queue of around 40-50 gallons before I could hope to get some water. Sometimes it used to take me almost 3-4 hours to fetch just 20-40 litres of water.
Then I heard that people would vote for a different political party and water shall be available soon.
The Only Thing Changed Was the Government
The government did change, but the water situation didn’t. Water pipeline did come to my colony but not anywhere near my place. A local ‘Chhutbhaiya type’ leader felt that since I didn’t support his party, I didn’t deserve to get water. So the water pipeline was forced to take a sharp U-turn. Again, I was without water.
Another five years passed by and a new government came to power. I was hopeful that now I must be getting water soon enough. The leader I had voted for had promised to end the water woes as quickly as possible.
The water did come (sometimes at 3:30 in the morning, sometimes at 2:00 in the morning, sometimes once in 3-4 days) I was relieved a bit. After some days, the taps again went dry. And I have been waiting since then.
And I am not alone. It is the story of countless ordinary taxpayers (who’s hard-earned money runs the nation).
They wonder if they are asking for too much by expecting clean drinking water in their taps. On the other hand, the slum dwellers in Delhi appear to be in a better position.
When It Comes to Water Supply Slum-Dwellers Are Luckier than Tax-Paying People
There’s a J.J. colony aka resettlement colony near my place. The people living there were used to be slum dwellers just a couple of years back at some place in Delhi.
They were ‘forced’ to live in unhygienic and inhumane conditions. That is at least how the ‘Secular’ media and some so-called ‘Intellectuals’ and ‘Social workers’ love to describe their living conditions (as if someone invited them to Delhi to grab public land and then didn’t care enough for them)
Instead of deporting them back from where they came, (rumour has it) that political parties used them as a tool to come to power. To help them raise their ‘standard of living’, the slum dwellers were allotted plots. Roads, sewage, water pipeline and most of the necessary infrastructure made available for them.
These slum dwellers had no idea about what does it mean to face water shortage in Delhi. And why should they? After all, they voted the government in Delhi to power. (For quite some years, I had no choice but to roam around in that colony daily and plead with people to let me fetch some drinking water. Imagine that!)
Wish I Were a Slum-Dweller
Sometimes I feel life has been unfair to me. God could have helped me born in a ‘Jhuggiwala family’, but he didn’t. I envy them. They can build a “Jhuggi’ where they please. They know nobody can ‘touch’ them. Political parties shall help them get voter- ID cards, Aadhar card and other documents needed to become a ‘legal’ citizen of Delhi.
It seems it’s an unwritten pact between slum dwellers and political leaders. ‘You convert our Illegal structures into legal ones, and we shall support your party in elections every time you need us.’
It’s a win-win situation for both of them.
Is There Any Hope?
But what about people like me? I am just another taxpayer, hoping that maybe someday I shall be lucky enough to see water in my taps. It’s been 20 years. I don’t know when or if that day would come.