16 Thursday, May 16, 2019 20:48

Where water is a luxury and the poor go thirsty

New Delhi (CNN)Hundreds of empty plastic jugs wait in rows on the cracked, dry, dusty earth. Hovering expectantly nearby, the residents of Vasant Kunj slum in South Delhi, one of the citys largest and poorest, stand waiting for a government water tanker to arrive. Its been 10 days. Ten days since they last received a drop of water.

For many families, their containers ran out days ago. They are thirsty and dirty. Its very difficult to live like this, said Fatima Bibi, 30, who is in charge of organizing water for the slum. Everything comes from this water. Everything. Drinking, cooking, cleaning, washing.Ten minutes away are Delhis upscale shopping malls, where you can buy a pair of sneakers for $1,000.

But in this part of the city, people live in tightly packed corrugated-iron huts. In the 40 C (104 F) heat, it feels like a furnace inside them.Read MoreAs the tanker rolls into the compound, shouts rise up from the crowd. Men and women sprint forward with green rubber pipes to feed the tankers water into their containers.

They are given 600 liters (158.5 gallons) per household -- barely enough to survive on until the next rations arrive. .m-html5-video--1557976371131 { display: block; margin: 0 0 1em; position: relative; width: 100%; } .m-html5-video--1557976371131 video { display: block; width: 100%; }
India is facing the worst water crisis in its history, with 600 million people dealing with high to extreme water shortages, according to a recent report by Niti Aayog, a policy think tank for the Indian government.

An average of 200,000 Indian lives are lost every year due to inadequate supply or contamination of water. Twenty-one major Indian cities are estimated to run out of groundwater by 2020 -- just a year away. As India develops and grows to support its 1.3 billion people, those on the front lines of the crisis say its only going to get worse.

We have too many people for too little water, said Jyoti Sharma, founder and president of FORCE, an Indian NGO working on water conservation and sanitation. Its unfortunate that people dont see how frightening it really is. As arid countries like India get drier due to climate change, Sharma warned that water could soon become a global disparity issue.

Fatima Bibi is in charge of water distribution for the Vasant Kunj slum.The problemSimply put, Indias water sources are running out. Indias main problem is that the country relies on groundwater for most of its water needs. Decades of digging bore holes -- pipes that are drilled into the earth to reach water -- in favor of traditional water harvesting systems has meant India is suffering from severe ground water depletion.

We are the largest groundwater user in the world, said Joydeep Gupta, South Asia editor at the Third Pole, a news website dedicated to environmental issues. Its very bad, its a state of very grave crisis.As India becomes more urbanized and millions more people move to cities, theres an increased demand for water.

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News Code: 169325  |  CNN
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