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Issue 38
, 2012
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Water woes: Tales of wastage, apathy

Source: Hindustan Times, Date: , 2012

After HT exposed water mismanagement at the hands of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) staff, the board is receiving brickbats from all quarters.   The chief minister has asked the DJB CEO to be more vigilant. Experts too have condemned the board for wasting potable water.

Dr Pankaj Mehta, who teaches Environmental Science at Amity University, said "The leakages at pumping stations need to be plugged at the source. The DJB should also harvest every single drop so wasted to recharge the ground water."

Distribution losses have already been pegged to be between 30-50%. At a seminar last month, the chief minister too admitted that 42% water is lost during distribution.

But HT's 'Raid the Office' series points out that the losses could be more.

Perhaps that is why the Centre for Science and Environment's (CSE) latest report 'Excreta Matters' says the agency is one of the country's worst performing entities in terms of coverage and water losses.

"Our report pegs DJB's water losses at a whopping 52% - more than half the available water is wasted. Its officials add slum consumption in this loss.

But our survey showed that slums consume hardly 10% of the water," said Nitya Jacob, CSE's Director (Water).

During its visits to three pumping stations in south Delhi, HT had found that lakhs of gallons of water were being wasted away. Large taps used to fill tankers were never shut off.

The tankers too were old and wasted water during transit and at the consumer end. Not to mention, the old and rusty pipelines - a perennial source of wastage.

Ravi Agrawal of NGO Toxic Links lambasted the DJB's 'distribution' problem. "It is not 'shortage of water' that Delhi is facing, but more of a 'distribution' problem," he said. DJB needs more efficiency and transparency at its pumping stations, Agrawal added.  

Citizens too criticised the jal board for its apathy. "The amount of water that gets leaked from tankers and pumping stations till the delivery point can meet a day's demand for an average-size locality. Why can't they buy new tankers?" wondered R Shreeram, a resident of C-block Vasant Kunj. 

Case Study Relying on tankers for 10 yrs

Vasant Kunj

The Maliks of B-block, Vasant Kunj, have been relying on water from DJB tankers for over a decade now.

This part of the dry south Delhi locality hardly gets any running tap water and residents have to get their tanks filled from water tankers.

"We get very little tap water. So to meet our demand, we have to call DJB tankers," said Reena Malik, a resident of B-Block Vasant Kunj.

The situation is the same for other parts of Vasant Kunj. "Nothing changes even after media highlights a problem.

The Delhi government has failed at all fronts," said retired wing commander Mathur, a resident of Vasant Kunj.

Hardly a kilometre away from this locality, the DJB pumping station is brimming with water.

Here, children take showers, tankers get washed and gallons go down the drain, literally, due to the sheer carelessness of DJB employees.