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Why is Delhi Jal Board Providing Saline Muddy Water To Seemapuri Residents?

Residents of Seemapuri in the national capital reveal that for years the Delhi Jal Board has been providing the residents with polluted, saline and muddy water. The Probe team exposes this shocking story of apathy and neglect.

By Pavitra Utgikar & Ashutosh Dixit
New Update

“For the last five years, we have been provided drainage water. We use this water for bathing, washing, and cleaning utensils. The vessels also don’t get cleaned up and stink when we use this water. So, we use expensive bottled water to wash the utensils,” rued Sulaiman, a resident of Old Seemapuri in the national capital.

Like Sulaiman, other residents, too, have been knocking at the doors of the Delhi Jal Board with their water grievances. Another resident Mohammed Jameel told The Probe that he has been supplied with muddy saline water from the Board for years.

publive-image Pictures of contaminated water supplied by Delhi Jal Board to Old Seemapuri residents | Photo courtesy: The Probe team

Seemapuri is a relatively rural zone of North East Delhi. The families in the poorer neighbourhoods say that the Delhi Jal Board has turned a deaf ear to their water woes.

“The water is sometimes salty, sometimes sweet, and at other times very dirty, just like muddy water. We can’t drink this water. The water stinks,” said another resident Lakshmi. Our team also caught up with Ameena Khan, whose health started deteriorating when she began consuming the saline water.

publive-image Ameena Khan, a resident of Old Seemapuri started falling sick after consuming the saline water | Photo courtesy: The Probe team

Many residents have complained that the water crisis is such that a large number of people in the Old Seemapuri region have fallen sick after consuming the water supplied by the Delhi government. Bilal Khan, President of the Residents Welfare Associations’ Jhuggi Vikas Samiti, notes that until 2015 people were provided with Ganga water but later, the water quality started steadily deteriorating.

“Today, under the Delhi government, the water being provided to us is saline and sandy. We are helplessly drinking this water. I want to ask you what will happen if a family’s sole breadwinner drinks this water and falls ill. What if he develops stomach ache, kidney stones or stones in the gallbladder? Who will bear the burden? His family will suffer. He will suffer alone. If one person gets sick, the entire family will suffer because of it," says Khan.

We also caught up with Razda. Razda has been residing in Old Seemapuri for the last five decades or so. She tells us that she and her son and grandchildren have been falling sick repeatedly following the water consumption.

publive-image Razda, a resident of Old Seemapuri rues that her family fell sick after consuming the water supplied by the Delhi Jal Board | Photo courtesy: The Probe team

Another resident Iklak claims that his family, too, suffered health issues and was told by the local doctor to stop consuming the water provided by the Board.

“After food, I have gastric issues when I drink this water, and my stomach bloats up. When I visited the doctor, he told me water deficiency was causing the problem. When I asked him why I was facing this pain, he told me that it was because of the consumption of saline water. The food I eat doesn’t get digested,” states Afsana.

Most people in Old Seemapuri belong to low-income families and struggle to make ends meet. These families have today started spending their hard-earned income on cheap water cans, which they use for drinking. Bilkis, a resident of the area, says she has been purchasing bottled water for years. “We are poor people. Should we buy food, or should we purchase water?” asks Bilkis.

The Delhi Jal Board has received multiple complaints from residents regarding the contaminated water supply. As we probed further, locals here told us that the affluent neighbourhoods adjacent to Seemapuri get access to clean water while low-income families like those living in Seemapuri are being discriminated against and are forced to make do with polluted water for their daily use.

Delhi Jal Board An aerial image of Old Seemapuri in North East delhi | Photo courtesy: The Probe team

“Dilshad Colony and Dilshad Garden are adjacent to our place. The water in those areas is very clean. Is this not discrimination? If you are providing water, then it should be equally distributed. AAP is not a common man’s government anymore. It is a government for the privileged. Don’t people live in Seemapuri? Isn’t Seemapuri their vote bank? Don’t the people here vote for them? In Dilshad Colony, all the good areas get clean water. They don’t have any issues, but they are creating problems for us. That’s because we come from a poor colony. High-class and middle-class people get different treatment even when God has created all humans as equals. There is discrimination here,” alleges Bilal Khan.

Setun Nisha, a senior citizen in the area, agrees. She says, “The colony in front of us (Dilshad Colony) used to get saline water. Today, they are getting clean water, and we are receiving saline water”.

Our team also visited the office of the Junior Engineer of Delhi Jal Board’s Old Seemapuri Division. While the JE declined to comment on the subject, we started a conversation with the local Pump Operator. The Pump Operator refuted the residents’ allegations but refused to show us the water storage facility.

Delhi Jal Board Bottled water cans being supplied by a local vendor to the residents of Old Seemapuri | Photo courtesy: The Probe team

The residents claim that the local authorities have been dilly-dallying and have not taken measures to fix the water issue even when they know the extent of the problem. "I am aware of it. I am aware that there is some problem. Give me the house numbers and blocks so that I can take up those blocks on a priority basis," said Ram Niwas Goel to The Probe. Goel is the Delhi Assembly Speaker and MLA from Shahdara Assembly Constituency under which Seemapuri falls.

The Delhi Jal Board continues to claim on its website that it “supplies pure and wholesome filtered water to the capital city of India, which has grown phenomenally to the present population of more than 160 lakhs”. But the residents of Seemapuri maintain that the Board has been a mute spectator to their problems while they wait helplessly for their water woes to end.