Is this how all of us will get water soon ?

My assistant went out and shot a little video in Colaba, in Mumbai. There’s no water in the taps in this area. It is served by Water Tankers, that come once a day if you are very lucky, and you queue up for hours to get water. A few burly guys are pushing and pulling people, bossing them around – (and they have a kind of a barricade for the tanker that is carrying water) – I’m not sure who those guys are. They certainly don’t look like government employees to me. They look like local goons.

What’s interesting is this is not a slum of Mumbai. This video was shot right in the heart of Cloaba which is where the Taj Mahal Hotel is, one of the ten best hotels in the world.

It’s where the elite of Mumbai live, and it is next to the financial center of Mumbai. It is where one of Mumbai’s prime shopping area is. The people that live in this area service the whole of Colaba. They are the people that run the lifts, the chowkidar’s, the drivers, the people that work in the shops, I am sure many the waiters in the Taj Hotels too. They deliver your food, they work in the restaurants. They are the watchmen, the cleaners and the people who wash your clothes. They are the people are the oil in the machinery that make sure you can live in the city of Mumba This is also in an area where around the corner, there’s enough water running freely in the taps. You can stand in the shower for hours, or you can go for a long swim in the beautiful swimming pool in the Taj Mahal Hotel. Just a stones throw from where this video was shot.
That’s the problem there is water for the people who are the opinion makers and the decision makers of the city water still comes to their tap. They don’t have to stand in line for water. Wonder when they will look outside their windows into the back streets ? In their own backyard ? And start to worry about what the real problem in the world is today.
And realize that people that wait in line for the water pay much much more for the meagre amounts of water they can get. Which is why I do not buy what the economists are saying now – that the water problem can be solved by getting people to pay a fair price for it – what is ‘a fair price’ in this situation ?

22 thoughts on “Is this how all of us will get water soon ?

  1. Hi,
    water problem can be solved in cities or villages by using innovative water harvesting techniques. no water tanks / taps will help. things that can help is harvesting rain water look at mumbai so much rain but no drinking water as all this water go waste. harvest rain water, recharge ground water and see with in few years we will not have any water problem. if we can do it in kutch where there is almost no rain then why not in delhi/mumbai. what we lack is political will, resources to people who know the know how, peoples participation and sense of ownership and empowerement

  2. hi shekhar !
    can you imagine what 26.7.07 could have meant if we had a better drainage system and the resources to absorb all that water instead of letting it flood and kill so many people ?!
    that year would have been a RED LETTER one for bombay suburbs ( where maximum damages took place ) as well as for the whole of bombay !
    yet, it turned out to be a day of mourning which we lament in the same manner in which the people in the U S cry over 9. 11 !

  3. Despite getting flooded every year, losing millions of dollars worth of goods apart from damages to the real estate, there is nothing done.
    The government talks about urban development schemes that it hands over to the Municipal Corporation of the city. Why do they forget then that water resources and drainage system are one of the most fundamental parts of that development?
    It is not a singular case with Mumbai but all over the country. Wonder when things would change.
    OH and if you do try to bring about change, you’re mocked and you’re told in plain words, “Yeh India hain Madam, yahan aise hi hota hain.” *rolls eyes*

  4. Sir,
    In my opinion, each of us has our own gifts from god. And each one of us should exploit that gift to help your neighbor. And not lament and point fingers.
    You have a gift – making films. And basically all Indians have their life influenced by Indian films. You have a tool more powerful than a few words in a blog. Express yourself through the medium which is the most effective and which reaches masses. Mass awareness is what is needed. And I believe that change needs to start first in self. And the only permanent thing is Change!
    A Shekhar Kapur is not born every day in this planet… And the gifts that you have could be put in service of the masses. True am no one to tell you all this. I just felt like sharing my opinion. Sorry if I crossed the limit

  5. Dear Mr Kapur,
    I am the assistant of the french filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud. Mr Annaud would like to send you an invitation via postmail. Would you please give us the address where we can send this to you.
    Best regards,
    Perrine Coulogner
    Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Office

  6. Unless Indian Government does not link rivers and channalise them, we will continue to have such problems.
    India has rich water resources but no one seems to use it. The situation looks grave but why can rivers be linked?
    I dont think there is rich / poor divide as much it is made now but yes its a potential danger. When I saw that video, I also felt that those people are helping too.
    Rain water harvesting is good option but its collective responisblity. According to law, its compulsory. Ruchi has made reference of Kutch which is great! When Narmada water was bought to Kutch Abdhasa zilla, the land rates increased. As far as Mumbai is concerned, I do not know if rain water harvesting will work, as what I see of Mumbai is – its a land and on both sides there is sea…and underneath Mumbai is age old gutters!

  7. Am I in control of my destiny and who is the I?
    was thinking if Mr.Kapur would say…
    Can I ‘infulence’ my destiny and then who is the I would really be interesting
    regards and warm wishes to all

  8. Shekarji, this was exactly what I was referring to in our exchange in your blog on “Socially acceptable behavior”. I would say this is a very familiar sight not just in Colaba, or in Mumbai, but in almost every other place large and small in India. I remember having observed this in the heart of a “high-tech” city like Hyderabad over 10 years ago, so it is not a recent phenomenon either! Having observed this all, I would like to add here that Water problems are not entirely due to lack of rainfalls or natural resources, but purely on account of mismanagement, red tape and politics that exist in the country today. Man-made reasons above anything. I think the issue would be more “manageable” if we could begin to stem the rot that is our antiquated political system.

  9. dear perrine, ur e mail id refuses to accept mail and if you would e email me at, my office will send you my address. Please do give Mr Jean- Jaqques Anaud my best have been a fan of his films for long now. shekhar

  10. Water is a problem at all levels…even urban. People don’t get water in the summers and go without a bath for upto a week at a stretch. Yes, it’s a fact and it happens during summers when the water shortage is at it’s peak. Let alone drinking water which is never unfit for drinking!

  11. Hi! Thanks for the post about the water problem, which is so common in India. It has long ceased to be anything of news interest. Nobody really has the time to discuss such issues. The opinion leaders know which number to dial for a water tanker, and in most of the cases, the residents associations take care of such things. Only thing one needs to worry in such cases is the money, which, anyways, is coming in abundance, and is spent with gay abandon 🙁
    We’ll have enough blogs, online petitions, and mail chains to campaign for better roads — city roads, mostly –, IT parks, optical cable infrastructure, (against) fringe benefit taxes, and all that matters to the people whose voices matter. I work at one such IT park, and do benefit from all that i mentioned above. But many times it makes me sick when people talk about these as the only things that a nation needs to achieve development. People tend to forget that there is a world outside the steel and glass structures that have captured their imagination and hold them as captives for their lifetime.
    I’m glad that you found time to write about this, and do hope that such posts from people like you would bring this back to our socio-political discourse, and, yeah, above all would make it fashionable enough for our friends to discuss.

    Groundwater levels have depleted sharply in the state because of indiscriminate drilling of borewells. As per the latest report of the Groundwater Estimation Committee, exploitation of the precious resource is rampant in seven districts. While groundwater exploitation is a high 99 per cent in Ranga Reddy, it is 90 percent in Anantapur. Nizamabad recorded 75 percent, Medak 74 per cent, Kadapa 69 per cent, Chittoor 67 per cent and Warangal 65 per cent.
    Experts say that drawing of groundwater beyond 90 per cent is categorised as critical and between 70 per cent and 90 per cent as semi-critical. When groundwater exploitation is below 70 per cent, it is termed safe. According to the amended Andhra Pradesh Water, Land and Trees Act, those who want to dig borewells should seek prior permission. However, this rule is observed more in the breach. Last year, the groundwater department got a meagre 1,818 applications from across the state seeking permission for digging borewells, out of which 1,371 were cleared.
    The department, however, estimates that over 50,000 borewells are dug in the state every year. There are 26 lakh borewells in the state. To check over-exploitation, the groundwater department has now identified 4,190 high stress villages and banned drilling of new borewells there. The highest number of villages (2,257) is in Telangana region followed by Rayalaseema with 1,405 and Andhra region 528. In all, 390 villages of Ranga Reddy district are in the high-stress list followed by Medak with 380 and Warangal 330.
    In Rayalaseema region Chittoor is on top with 569 villages followed by Ananthapur (385), and Kadapa (345). Digging of borewells has been banned in 152 villages in West Godavari district of Andhra region followed by Nellore and Prakasam with 145 each. “Most people, including farmers, are flouting rules while digging borewells,” said Mr S.A. Raoof Hashmi, deputy director of the groundwater department.
    “It is mandatory for people to obtain permission for digging borewells, but they are not following the rules.” he said. He added that those who seek permission from the department also get an insurance cover of Rs 10,000. “This is important since 20 per cent of borewells fail to give water,” he added. The Agriculture Minister, Mr N. Raghuveera Reddy, who hails from over exploited zone of Ananthapur, agreed that farmers were digging borewells rampantly in his district. “We have been trying to educate them to be judicious in exploiting groundwater,” he said.
    “Groundwater is fast depleting because of the indiscriminate drilling. This is also the reason for most borewells not giving water.” he added. Officials say that farmers desiring to drill a borewell should apply to the Village Secretary / MRO. The mandal authority (Tahsildar) will consider the proposal and will accord permission if it is feasible.”We charge a nominal fee of Rs 500 for investigation of borewell point for small and marginal farmers as against Rs 2,000 charged by private players,” said, Mr Hashmi. “But farmers seek quick solutions and land in trouble.”

  13. Water shortage is a constant problem that can be resolved through massive use of innovative technology. We realize it during the summer time when truly this problem hits us. Solution lies in consistently seeking for one, irrespective of time, weather and circumstances. We fear looking ahead and get contented or discontented with our present. If we are seeking for remedy, we should not thank god exclaiming ah!, today there was supply. Shout till were heard

  14. Changing the name to Mumbai could not change the water problems of Bombay. The compromising nature of Indians and acceptance of their present state, somewhat could only highlight the problems without any concrete measures of resolving them. The solutions are still awaited!!!!

  15. This may be a little off-topic, but what has always amazed me is that despite the fact that there is so much poverty and hardships for so many indians, they are so aligned with their selves that they do not need sleeping pills or anti-depressants to survive even in such conditions.
    Some things that I was conditioned to while living in Mumbai now purely amaze me, such as the last time i was there, was waiting in a traffic red light, these beggar kids were playing around in the middle of the streets with the warmest of smiles and with a sense of social bonding that is almost invisible in the so-called “first world” countries. And those days i recall when i used to go early in the morning for tuition and would have to walk on this footpath filled with a row of gypsies, hawkers etc. so deep in sleep….its an amazing world..the Maya is so utterly powerful that it makes the illusionary look like the real thing.

  16. Watch the video carefully, and see the womens’ faces. They have such beautiful smiles and a sense of grounding which is absent in many of the high-society and “modernized” folks.
    These kind of videos used to be a staple in the western media to show some of the eastern countries, and still are, which gives temporary relief to them by calling countries like India as “third-world”. But the facts are very different and almost contradictory to such wide-spread beliefs.
    Just giving a different twist to this discussion 🙂

  17. dear perrine, could you please resend the e mail ? my office does not seem to have received it, shekhar

  18. Yes Sir, this is how we will all get water.Recently the Muncipal Commissioner has stated that water wastage is something like 40% by the time it comes from the lakes……while a phone call away a tanker comes merrily.Where do the tankers get their water from….something to think about.

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