Why not yet connected rivers in India

IndiaNo development without water

The tank truck with the drinking water is coming - at last. A great event for the residents of the Kusumpur Pahari settlement. One would actually say slum, because this part of Delhi is not connected to the water supply network of the Indian capital, nor to the sewer system. Once a week, the people who live here are supplied with drinking water.

Vijay Kumar is responsible for the fair distribution of the precious water in the district: "Slowly, slowly - everyone gets a turn. Make room, you've already got your water." There are almost always arguments, he says: "Everyone wants to get their turn first. But they listen to me. If not, then I just threaten to turn off the water and it's quiet."

Actually, the tanker should have come a day earlier. Anyone who had not created drinking water reserves was left to dry out.

"We have been waiting for the tanker truck since yesterday morning and our canisters are waiting in line here. Normally I always have a reserve at home in case the tanker doesn't come. Because then you really have a problem."

In some districts of New Delhi, people only get drinking water from tankers (AFP / Dominique Faget)

When the water comes, the children don't go to school

The precious drinking water is filled into large, lockable canisters, but also into buckets and bowls that are immediately carried into the houses. Everyone has to lend a hand, including the children:

"I can't even carry the water home on my own. The children have to help out. Now it's vacation time, but otherwise I'll take them from school on the day the water is delivered. We need the drinking water."

Not far from here are the better parts of Delhi, where the rich people live who can shower extensively every day, have luxurious bathrooms and also enough money to buy bottled drinking water. The residents of Kusumpur Pahari don't even have a toilet.

"They built outhouses for us far out there. But how are we supposed to get there? Especially we women and the girls, all alone? We women all go to the field behind the bushes there, at five o'clock in the morning and then not all day. "

And that's the Indian capital; in the countryside the situation is even worse in many places. Water is scarce. India is currently suffering from the largest water crisis in the country's history. According to a government report, 600 million Indians - around half of the population - are suffering from extreme water scarcity. In two years' time, more than 20 large cities will no longer have any groundwater, the report that has just been submitted says. According to this, around 40 percent of the Indian population would no longer have access to drinking water by 2030.

Bad water management

One reason is poor water management, the experts said at a panel discussion on Indian television. There is no plan for the ever-increasing demand for water as a result of population growth, said Nitin Desai, a distinguished economist who once worked for India at the United Nations:

"We have to better document and manage our groundwater stocks. We let the farmers tap groundwater, even though they are taking the water away from others. And then our rivers. All of the major rivers in India flow through several states. And there are constant disputes the water. Even the constitution stipulates that the water belongs to everyone and not just to the state through which the river is flowing. "

Indian economist Nitin Desai (AFP / Louisa Gouliamaki)

Water distribution is becoming a political issue

Delhi gets its water mainly from the two holy rivers Ganges and Yamuna, which flow through the neighboring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. As the daily newspaper "The Hindu" reported, the head of government of Haryana in the north of Delhi has promised to let more water flow into the capital, although there are also water shortages in parts of his state. Delhi would have to withdraw all environmental lawsuits against Haryana before the Supreme Court.

Delhi is complaining about air pollution, among other things, because the farmers in Haryana and other neighboring states burn down their fields in the winter months and the residents of Delhi can hardly breathe because of the smoke and smog. The fair distribution of the vital resource water becomes a political issue.

Education and health also depend on water

The water problem urgently needs to be solved, says Nitin Desai, because numerous other social problems in India are connected with it:

"Water is a strategically important resource for the development of the country, for the areas of health and also for education. You can see that wherever water is made available in the countryside, suddenly more girls are going to school because they no longer have to stay home to fetch water. "

The water crisis is particularly noticeable in rural areas. In the village of Dindori, in Madhya Pradesh, in central India, women and girls risk their lives every day to fetch water from a well for their families. Without safety, they climb down the wall of the well, which is almost ten meters deep, in order to draw water from below. Then the metal buckets are pulled up. Accidents happen again and again. Either a heavy bucket falls down or one of the girls falls from the wall of the well.

But it's not just bad water management. India is also among the countries that are feeling the effects of climate change the most. The precipitation in the rainy season is noticeably less, as a result, the water supplies steadily decrease.