March 7, 2021

Water mafias take over a thirsty market in India

An illegal network of water traffickers has taken advantage of the lack of government services in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of India to establish a black market for the sale of supplies with prices that shoot up in the heat wave, when temperatures reach around 50 degrees Celsius.

"The Mafia does not allow the supply process to be completed in these oppressed areas," says Efe Dinesh Yadav, a member of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), a public body that deals with the distribution of water in the Indian capital. of 16 million inhabitants.

In neighborhoods such as Sagnam Vihar, in the south of New Delhi, the neighbors depend to source the private tankers, which charge for each bucket of water -as a woman in the area complains to Efe- between 20 and 50 rupees (between 0 , $ 3 and $ 0.7), an important sum if one takes into account that, according to data from the World Bank, 60% of the Indian population earns a maximum of $ 3.2 per day.

"Many people have had to leave this site because of that problem, but those of us who can not leave are forced to live like this every day," explains the woman, who asks for anonymity while she scrubs some kitchen pots in the street.

In the rest of India, the problem is no different, with one of the biggest water crises in its history: 75% of households do not have drinking water and 84% of rural houses lack water supply, according to official data of the Indian Government.

In addition, nearly 600 million people face extreme water shortages in India, the third country with the worst water quality in the world, with 70% of its water resources contaminated.

Thus, thousands of colonies throughout the country lack water and depend on tankers that move to the areas to provide them with a service of first necessity.

It is in this context when the price abuse of the mafias takes place, that they dedicate themselves to "collect water from reserves from nearby wells" to sell it at a "much higher" price in illegal settlements, the network coordinator confirmed to Efe. Asia of dams, rivers and people (SANDRP) Himanshu Takkar.

There the water mafias have managed to establish a monopoly that "distributes and overexploits resources", because "they know very well the areas and politicians of the area," Efe environmental activist Dhruvansh Madhulika Choudhary, seated, told Efe. in the southern Indian town of Hyderabad.

The strong population growth of India, which experienced an increase of 25.3% in the last 50 years to reach 1,300 million inhabitants, has also boosted the black market in areas that do not have supplies or pipes that connect homes To a source of water, he explained to Efe the Geography professor of Delhi University Suresh Chand Rai.

This problem worsens taking into account that as "the population increases (…) the water level decreases", so the streams dry up and the amount of water is reduced, both on the surface and underground, revealed the academic.

Therefore the only solution to supply the population and end these mafias is the adoption of technological resources that "collect, both in metropolitan and rural areas, rainwater that is channeled underground," although, Rai said, Without "government collaboration and action plans to combat desertification" that goal will never be possible.

Mikaela Viqueira

(tagsToTranslate) mafias (t) seize (t) market (t) thirsty (t) India

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