Our Cities

In Delhi’s posh Vasant Kunj area, a few months back, had a conversation with my uncle who while parking his car, after much efforts, summoned a water-tanker wala to fill the water tank, as the municipal water supply had not been sufficient and dear uncle was expecting guests later that day. As the orders were accepted, so was a Rs. 100 Note, which quietly went into the pocket of the assistant of the water-tanker guy.

On the water tanker was written that the service was free of charge, courtesy Delhi Government. Then why was it that he was paid? And why does it happen every second day?

Simple. Here too, the demand of the state supplied water tanker water exceeds supply. The water goes to people who pay the guy. So in effect, it’s a bit like auctioning water. Whoever pays more, gets the water.

Of course, on paper this water is supplied free of cost to the residents of our national capital. This “on record” fact is very important because this shall make it’s way to the list of achievements of the present day State Government when Delhi votes again.

Somini Sengupta, in a riveting report for The New York Times here (requires registration), reveals that a good 25 to 40 percent of water leaks out of Delhi’s pipe supply system. Yamuna, the only river that runs through the city (if you still call it a river that is), provides Delhi with 229 million gallons of water everyday. And then, the city dumps about 950 million gallons of sewage into the same river, each day. Approximately 45 percent of Delhi’s population is not even connected to the public sewage system. This is the state of the Nations capital.

Michael Crichton, in his last novel, “State of Fear“, explained how developing countries tend to ‘jump’ development cycles. An underlying network/infrastructure to support the new development cycle is, almost always, practically absent. We could be opening shopping malls and broadband internet may be making inroads into the Indian home but the state has failed to provide clean drinking water, a proper sewage system and electricity to the most urban of areas in the country. Worse still, what we have is not distributed in an optimized manner. Water leakages and electricity theft are problems that are in no way related to their respective supplies. And I have not even mentioned the villages.

International pollution norms are relaxed for developing countries. Once India is asked to comply with the rules set on emissions by International Standards (and I hope that happens soon), the Centre will wake up to a mess which would be hard to come out of.

One thought on “Our Cities

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.