New Delhi left thirsty for over 24 hours after supply cut off by rioters
Rioters in the Indian state of Haryana took control of –and damaged - the Munak canal last week, cutting off the water supply in New Delhi for more than 24 hours.
On Monday, troops were sent in to take back control of the waterway following the civil unrest which resulted in the death of 19 people.
10 million citizens in India’s capital were unable to access water as taps ran completely dry. Those who could afford bottled water rushed out to buy it whilst others filled their buckets from the trucks that brought water to the affected neighbourhoods.
Kapil Mishra, the Delhi state water minister said: “It was the worst crisis Delhi has ever seen.
“Seven [of nine] water treatment plants were totally shut down. Right now the canal is damaged very badly. I’ve not seen anything like this...But there was no panic.”
Neeraj Semwal, a senior water board official, told The Wall Street Journal that the full restoration of piped water supplies would take 15 days because of the time it will take to repair the Munak canal in Haryana that supplies 60 per cent of Delhi’s water.
Delhi’s problems won’t be over even when normalcy returns to the city.
About 70 per cent of Delhi's residents receive only three hours of running water per day, according to India's Ministry of Urban Development, a supply which is not even guaranteed as more than half of the city’s running water leaks from rusty pipes before it reaches households.
Another problem with Delhi's water supply is how pure it is. Those who can afford it buy bottled water or reverse osmosis filters for their drinking water.
A political dispute in a neighbouring state has caused this latest crisis, but it is a reminder that water shortages and pollution problems continue to be prevalent in India, which is home to 1.3billion people.
India is a country that uses so much irrigation that the groundwater is already severely depleted and rivers often run dry due to the artificial pumping of water to land and soil to assist in the growing of crops in agriculture.
A member of Delhi Legislative Assembly representing the Janakpuri area in West Delhi, Rajesh Rishi, told The Wall Street Journal that the people in his area had no piped water for the last few days.
He said: “[The] Government is providing water to the people through tanks for essential purposes like drinking and cooking.”