Thursday, June 21, 2012

India’s Capital in Water Crisis After Supplies Cut in Searing Heat-Wave

Large parts of New Delhi were struggling with acute water shortages on Friday after a neighboring state cut its supplies at the peak of summer, officials said. The sprawling Indian capital, with a population of 16 million sweltering in 43 degree C (109.4 F) summer heat, relies on four neighboring states for its water — Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand. Haryana, the biggest supplier, cut its flow to the city on Thursday and about three million people have suffered shortages or been completely cut off, according to the Delhi Jal Board, a government agency responsible for water supply. Some of the capital’s smartest districts are among the affected areas, and the crisis reflects growing water stresses in the country of 1.2 billion people. “Suddenly, Haryana is refusing to release water to Delhi,” a top Delhi Jal Board official told AFP, requesting anonymity. “We are struggling at all levels. Every minute we are registering complaints of water shortage. This crisis has left us in a mess.” Several states across India face major challenges over water supply, triggering long-running legal battles over water sharing. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit accused Haryana, which says it has to conserve water for its own residents, of “playing foul” with the capital. “We are not asking for any favours. We want what is due to us,” Dikshit said in a statement Thursday. In the peak of summer, New Delhi needs 1,100 million gallons of water every day, according to the Delhi Jal Board, but public water providers are able to only supply 835 million gallons. “There is always a supply-demand gap but this gap is just widening and worsening the crisis,” said Himanshu Thakkar, an expert on water management at the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People research group in New Delhi.

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