Vote for a water- friendly candidate: Activists


In a city starkly divided between munificent high rises and voluminous slum pockets, disparity in living conditions of Mumbaikars glares starkly at ones face.

While on one hand, aristocrats while away l

itres and litres of water supplied by the civic body washing away their cars and bathing their dogs, activists inform that, more than twenty lakh people in slums of Mumbai have to pay through their nose to gain equitable access to this quintessential commodity.

In the light of upcoming civic elections, a city- based NGO, Pani Haq Samiti, has now appealed to the citizens to vote for those candidates who promise to resolve the issue of equal provision of water in their respective wards.

” As the municipal corporation has denied to supply water to more than 20 lakh people residing in post- 1995 slum settlements, residents have to rely heavily on buying water from the water mafia that sells water at ten times the BMC price,” stated Sitaram Shelar, a member of Pani Haq Samiti.

Further it is alleged that in a racket rolling into hundreds of crores, 113 communities spread across the city have water mafia operating hands in glove with local corporators and civic officials.

Activists point out that slums in P/ North ward of Malad- Malwani as also M/ East ward of Mankhurd are the most affected. Here, each family with minimum income less than Rs 5000 shells out anywhere close to Rs 1000 a month to access potable and non- potable water.

” Even as 30% of citys total water supply ( 3700 MLD) is shown as leakage, 10% of supply is diverted to water mafia. On the other hand, if every person in Mumbai of the population ranging up to 150 crores, gets 125 litres of water a day, BMC will still have enough water to suffice the city. The reluctance then to supply water to slums can only be due to an unruly nexus,” said Avinash Kadam, ex- hydraulic engineer, BMC. Not all allegations, though, are true, opine sitting local corporators who have witnessed water woes in their wards.

” When BMC does not give a legal connection, people have to turn to mafia for water. In the past 5 years though, we have installed 35 water tanks each of 5000 litres holding capacity at the outset of gullies in Bainganwadi replete with BMC- supplied water,” said Congress corporator Fazrulrehman Choudhari from M/ East ward. ” The problem is widespread, however in Malwani slums, with political pressure, a BMC- connection of a 6- inch wide water line has been finally installed to cater to a part of the population,” informed Shiv Sena corporator Renuka Dive of Maladbased P/ North ward.