Thursday, June 21, 2012


Water mafia will soon become an organised business!

Just as searing summer temperatures have taken toll on millions across the nation and household taps are almost running dry, the conniving water mafias are all set to make some quick bucks at the expense of the hapless consumers. The water starved cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore are worst hit that are facing this pressing problem, the most.

The Delhi Jal Board water supplies are meant to reach the end users, free of cost, yet water theft and non-supply from DJB is the unfortunate reality. The supposedly free water, which is a basic of any civilized society across the world, is sold at a price tag between Rs.400 and Rs.1, 000 for 1,000 litres. The price can reach up to Rs. 4000 on peak days. The connivance between DJB officials and private mafias set the negative tone for the water starved Delhites. The problem is particularly grave in South and South-west Delhi, with no easing of haggling with the water mafias, as they continue unabated extraction of water, which is illegal in the city, and magnify the agony of the residents as DJB pumps dry up! Delhi’s woes seem minuscule compared to Gurgaon, which is living amidst the terror of water mafias. The water there is selling at Rs.1,500-2,000 per tanker as the mafias on an average are spinning a staggering Rs.90 lakhs a day!

In Bangalore, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has floated tenders thrice in last 3 months for water tanker operators to meet with an impossible outcome viz. the stark statistics of zero response! A water supplier at Koramangala area earns approximately Rs. 4,000 per tanker, which is much profitable commerce compared to the government’s offer. BWSSB’s flat rate is Rs.1,650 per day per tanker – way below the private operator’s rate, who at times are found to charge anywhere between Rs.6,000 to Rs.8,000 per day. The demand-supply gap in the city is so wide that it can't be mended by government fleet of just 42 tankers – not a match with private operators possessing 10,000 vehicles.

Mumbai is probably the worst hit with water mafias' fortune rising as they are compelling the consumers to shell out Rs.2,500 to Rs.3,000 per tanker in South Mumbai, Rs.1,600 to Rs.1,800 in Central Mumbai and Rs.1,300 to Rs.1,500 in the suburbs. The excess of it all is spreading its wings to villages and small towns like Satara, Sangli and Solapur and other parts of Maharashtra as well. Pune is the next victim. The potable water is selling there at the rate of Rs.1,500 for 10,000 litres and non-potable water at Rs.800. This is going on in spite of the fact that Pune Municipal Corporation has fixed the rate at Rs.600 for 10,000 litres, Rs.700 for 10,000 – 15,000 litres and Rs.800 above 15,000 litres.

This is a vicious cycle going on in most of the major Indian cities and people are caught in the understanding (and not without reason) that there is no remedy to it. There is a nexus playing among the municipal officials, the police and the water tanker mafias; which underscores any attempt by regulatory authorities to pin down the problem. The question that lingers is how come these water tankers get to fill their tanks in spite of the DJB and likes facing water shortage? How come the police and traffic police allow these tankers to zip through the roads without checking their credibility? It’s imperative for the government to start their own authorized tanker services who are allotted licenses via a transparent mode. Or else, soon even in monsoon, taps would run dry!


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