Saturday, May 26, 2018

Delhi - The Water Mafia

Rows of men and women are gathered in narrow lanes, some sitting on their haunches. Large plastic drums are placed strategically in front of them. A cry goes up: "It's here, it's here." A water tanker backs into the lane, and the scene descends into chaos.

Young men charge towards the truck, clambering onto the top with hoses, which are then lowered into the tank. Others push the drums in place - there's a mad scramble to fill them. Fights break out as some people are pushed out of the way.

30% of Delhi's population have no access to piped water and have to be supplied by water tankers. But the difference between demand and supply is more than 750 million litres a day. That means people must rely on the black market - water supplied by private contractors, or the 'water mafia'. It costs about $10 to buy 200 litres of water from the mafia. In contrast, water provided by the city government is free, when it's available. The mafia is rapidly drawing out water from India's groundwater, which is being critically depleted.