Single post

Will 24/7 drinking water supply address the water woes of the peri-urban poor?

Mallampet in the suburbs of Hyderabad has been experiencing severe water crisis as a result of urbanization and rapid real estate growth in and around the village. As the population increased, the dependence on the existing water resources also doubled, owing to severe water scarcity in the village. Erratic rainfall also added to the problem pushing the residents of the village into absolute crisis. As a result of this, there has been a decline in the ground water table in the village, making it difficult for those in agriculture to continue farming and the villagers as a whole in accessing water for domestic and drinking purposes.

Mission Bhagiratha, the state governments’ flagship programme, where every household will get a pipe connection and 24/7 drinking water supply free of cost has no takers in Mallampet. Household drinking water piped connections under Mission Bhagiratha have been constructed in one part of the village but the households were not informed about the mission’s drinking water supply. The residents are still in the process of discovering the piped water supply in their homes. On being asked about the utility of this water, a lot of people refrained from using this water for drinking or cooking as they doubt the quality of water being supplied. Many of them expressed that they have got used to RO water as they feel safe consuming this filtered water. This reveals that the focus of Mission Bhagiratha is purely on the hardware component. Convergence between authorities and other essential aspects such as – creating awareness about the mission among water users and in promoting water conservation mechanisms in the village have not been given due attention. This has led to ineffectiveness of the mission in the village.

There is a laxity on part of the panchayat as it has not made any attempts to inform the people about the governments’ piped water supply. This could be a protectionist step taken by the panchayat, so as to sustain its private water market as it is in a partnership with the private water company, Dr. Water which sells RO water at a price. Thus, increasing the dependency on private players and indirectly encouraging privatization of water and leading to inequalities in the access to water in the village.

The state government’s efforts to give 24/7 drinking water supply access to every household in the state is being over-shadowed by the non-compliant behavior of the local government in Mallampet. The social contract is almost paralyzed as the local governments’ prioritization of profits over people allowed shifting of the control on land and water to the industries, villas and the water supply companies in and around the village. These supply side players (private RO plants and tankers) are now controlling the natural resources and the demand side players, who are consumers of this filtered water. Water, a collective resource has now become a private resource.

By Arunima Rao


theme by SaciWATERs