India’s capital, more than 65 years after independence, can’t provide drinking water to all its citizens. A quarter of Delhi households get no piped water into their homes, forcing them to rely on ground water from bore wells, or on tankers bringing supplies from outside. A 2013 audit of Delhi’s water system found it provided 200 million gallons less per day than its 17 million residents require. Opportunist businessmen cashed in on the discrepancy, digging their own illegal wells or seizing official supplies to resell at a higher price, often, some claim, in cahoots with the authorities. Many bore wells are themselves running dry and much of the water pumped from underground is contaminated, so unsuitable for drinking.
Lalita Yadav says her household, with a monthly income equivalent to £90, has to pay £20 a month for water from a private well. “I could put my children into a better school with that money,” she says angrily. “If we complain, they will cut off our water. For them, it’s just a business.”
Across the country where 76 million people, the highest number in the world, lack access to safe water, according to a report released today by WaterAid.