Despite the arrival of the monsoon, Mumbai is still reeling under a severe water shortage. It was a similarly grim situation this time last year. Although the current water cut is officially only 20%, it actually translates to a lot more for most people.
In our building, we’ve gone from receiving unlimited water 24 hours a day to only getting water for a few hours at a time, three times a day. The water supply to flush the toilet has also been cut off, so we have to flush it manually with a bucket. (Another instance of the ubiquitous Indian bucket being put to good use!).
Many people aren’t anywhere near as fortunate as us. Some only get water for 10 minutes a day, or not at all.
Today, the “additional municipal commissioner in charge of water supply” (isn’t one enough to do the job properly?) is saying that Mumbai may only get water once in 2 days if ongoing heavy rain isn’t received soon. Apparently Pune is already moving towards such a situation.
So how do people cope? Either buy buying water, which comes in large delivery trucks, or by storing water.
Our apartment has an overhead water storage tank that can be directly filled from the water supply just by turning on a tap. It’s quite convenient. Our landlord is especially enthusiastic about it too. Last year, when I complained to him about the building’s ongoing water problems, he always kept referring me to the water storage tank as a wonderful solution.
I assumed that every apartment in our complex had one of these water storage tanks. However, not so it seems. One day when the landlord visited, I discovered the reason why he was so proud of his water storage tank. Apparently, our apartment is possibly the only apartment in the building to have one!
Really? Why doesn’t everyone install a water storage tank? “Oh, they’re not allowed to. Overhead water storage tanks are not permitted in the apartments”, the landlord informed me.
He went on to tell me how he used to be a member of the building’s co-operative society (these societies are usually anything BUT cooperative!) and he was actively responsible for implementing a rule that banned the installation of water storage tanks. Not only this, he then directly turned around and installed such a tank in his own apartment.
Anyone who’s familiar with the workings of India will probably be able to predict the outcome of his actions. Apparently, an angry mob (and rightly so!) of residents from the other apartments gathered at the door of his apartment. They hammered on the door and threatened to beat him up. However, in reality, could anything be done to change the situation? Of course not. We still have our water storage tank while the other residents have to go without.
While I’m grateful that we do have the tank, I’m dismayed that the landlord could be so content about it. I’m appalled and incensed by his hypocritical behaviour. Doesn’t he care that he has deprived everyone else of an important convenience? From what I could gather from his satisfied manner, obviously not! Self interest reins supreme.
Similar situations are common all over India. People say one thing and do another. They have double standards. And there’s no accountability of people in power.
Now, I’d better stop before I get further away from the topic of water cuts!
© 2009, Diary of a White Indian Housewife. All rights reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.
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