When the city is in throes of a water and power crisis, the areas are always divided into some which are better off than others. Those sectors and colonies which lie closer to the water treatment facility at Basai are the first to have their share of water. Similarly, private builder colonies, and those which are fortunately close to a power sub-station seem to have less fluctuation – and more importantly, a better response time for the rectification of power infrastructure failure.
FG went around the City, to get the voice of the people.
Sectors 6 and 7
The residents here have decent water supply, but are hard-pressed to fill their water tanks. Reason? A majority of the residents have installed boosters/water pumps on the main line. Says a resident, “My neighbour has a speed pump installed, and it has made life hell for us. When the water supply comes, he switches on the pump. The suction is so strong, that until he switches off the pump, none of us along the line will get any water.” Although it is illegal to install water boosters on the main line (for this very reason), there is no authority from the Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) who has come to take notice of this, much less take action. Resident Amit Arora says, “Sectors 4,5,6, and 7 are some of the oldest sectors in the City, and have a problem of old pipelines. The pipes are changed only when they crack completely, and cut off the supply.” Also, by ‘design’, the storm water drains straight into the sewer lines. The state of the pipes are so bad that, come this monsoon, people will be unable to come out of their homes because of the flooding.
The residents’ pleas to the officials have no effect here. Arora says, “We have not given the sanitation contractor the clearance for his work, for well over six months, but he’s still getting paid. There is filth on the streets, and no one cares to take action against the culprits.”
The schemes of water harvesting structures have also given these Sectors a miss.
Sector 9/ 9A
The Sectors are well-off with respect to water supply. With their proximity to the Water Treatment Plant at Basai, they are amongst the first to receive the City’s share of water. That said, there are also a fair number of bore-wells in the area, some of which are unlicensed. N.K Rao, a resident of Sector 9A, confirms the fact that the water supply to the areas has been more than good, and “We only had problems when there was a line fault. We have metered water supply in our Sector, and we pay Rs. 4 per kilo-litre. For that, we are happy we have been spared what the rest of the City is going through.” Electricity supply is, however, a problem that these Sectors share with the rest of the City. Nitish, a shop-owner, came forward to say that the area witnesses at least four hours of load-shedding each day. Most of these households have inverters for power back-up, and not diesel gensets. “We don’t have big kothis in our area to warrant gensets,” comments Nitish.
When the HUDA Administrator came here a few months ago for his early morning inspection, the Residents’ Associations had forwarded a plan for suitable water harvesting sites. But since his visit, nothing has been done. “We had heard the news of 500 water harvesting sites to be set up across the City, but even our single proposal has come to naught,” says a resident.
Earlier, the HUDA Chief, Dr. Praveen Kumar, had also unveiled new garbage trucks, bags and bins to keep the HUDA sectors clean. However, there is no sign of any sustained sanitation activity by HUDA. Residents say that the garbage bins remain full for most of the time, and they don’t see the sanitation staff working daily.
Sectors 23 and 23A
These Sectors have been hit the hardest hit by the shortage of water. The residents complain that they don’t get water supply for two to three days at a stretch. Sometimes water tankers are seen scurrying up and down the bungalows, pumping in water for parched people.
“Our existence is growing harder day by day,” says Payel Jain, a work-from-home professional. “The water comes for a few minutes, and then disappears. And the electricity is counted by the hours we get, not the load-shedding hours. The inverters give up after a few hours, and many of our neighbours are seriously thinking of buying gensets, or hiring them.”
The residents here are well-to-do, and have no qualms about hiring tankers once the water supply dries up, or installing gensets to power their homes. But even they are questioning the City Administration’s ability to provide even the basic amenities to the citizens and tax-payers.
A Sector which lies next to the NH-8, and one of the oldest sectors by far, Sector 14 is crying out for a few hours of electricity. The state of power supply is so bad that there are power-cuts after every hour, and cases of blown transformers and line-tripping are reported every night. A member of Sector 14 RWA says, “The paying-guest houses in the Sector have put up ACs in every floor, but have taken a power load of just 2-4 KW. How will the power infrastructure cope up with this misuse? I don’t blame them for the electricity shortage, but the situation grows more dire every day. Even the water supply is affected by the loss of power every other hour.”
B.D Pahuja, one of the oldest residents in the Sector, says that there has been no maintenance work done by the HUDA staff in sanitation, nor for the upcoming monsoon season. “This year, the monsoon is going to be the same. Slushy roads, a nightmare for pedestrians, no power, and no water which we can use,” he comments.
The Sector is well-off in matters of water and power, when compared to other sectors. The power-cuts are three to four hours, spaced in between the day, and the water supply is decent as of now, agree RWA residents. And even the sectors around it have equilibrium in water/power supply.
“At least the city people have access to RWAs and privatised water and power supply. What can the common man in a Gurgaon village do?” asks Naresh Sehrawat.
Villages like Badhshahpur, Ghata and Sukhrali are just a few examples where the dearth of water and power have literally driven the people to the roads. Here, the water supply is as tenuous as the small pipes through which it reaches the homes. Borewells and illegal connections rule the roost, as people, driven to the edge, almost assault officials in their need for basic amenities. Sehrawat is a resident of Sukhrali, and had also stood as a candidate in the Municipal elections. “Any one can apply for an electricity connection. But how does that help, when there is no power to be supplied? No power, no water. The circle is pushing the people of the village into a tight corner. What happened in Badshahpur, with the officials and the villagers, would only be a trailer if things do not improve soon,” he predicts.
Water lines are running next to houses in these villages, right above the drains. When the monsoon hits the City, the water pipes will be underneath litres of sluggish, black water. In villages like Prem Puri, Samaspur, and Wazarabad, the story is the same as it was a year ago. Despite promises made by countless officials, the power lines remain low enough to touch. The water pipes are rusted to the point that a drop of water might pierce the remaining film of metal. A villager who has grown up in Wazirabad, Manish Yadav, has enough experience to tell that this year is no special from the last. “It’s just a little hotter, that’s all. The machinery has failed, and that is what making people mad. Everyone knew that the water supply was going to fail, as would the electricity. But we did not see that officials would be helpless to rectify the situation.” He said that villages are important only in election years, that development only takes place when bade logon ko vote chahiye. Otherwise, this is what happens when officials fail to do what they are paid to do.
Amit Dangi, a villager in Ghata, has the same story to tell. “The lineman takes money to get us a connection. Later, he comes with his engineer, cuts the connection, and fines us. It seems all the officials are out to make a fast buck from our troubles. When the rain comes, the village will be turned into a massive mudslide.”
Private Apartments/ Builder Colonies
These are the areas least affected by the water and power crisis. Simply because the residents have the money to tide things over. The only evidence that there is a water and power shortage in the City is shown on their monthly maintenance bills, in increased water and DG charges. An official in DLF Condominium Maintenance says, “We have borewells which are working overtime to provide the residents with 24-hour water supply. After all, this is what they are paying for. People choose condominiums for peace of mind regarding water, power and security. They pay extra for it, but that becomes our job instead of their headache.” How much are they paying extra for power this summer? “Anything around three to four thousand extra.” With several ACs and high-power devices, this is the minimum. The electricity bills range from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 25,000.”
Sanjay Singh, the RWA President for builder colony M2K, agrees. “We have borewells for our residents, so we don’t feel the pinch. Were we getting piped water, there would have been tankers lining up outside our entrance like others,” he laughs grimly. “The diesel gensets we are using are working overtime to provide back-up power for our residents. As of now, each of our residents is expecting at least a Rs. 3,000 hike in their electricity bill, apart from their normal maintenance.”
The whole City, whether it is sectors, villages or private colonies, are feeling the pinch of the summer. Whether hit hard or not, each citizen has been affected by nature’s fury, and the malfunction of the official machinery to counter it. The villagers have already come out on the streets in an aggressive display of the common man’s ire against poor provision of services. If the situation turns worse, it will be the turn of the sector residents. When, finally, will the people in the condominiums, the supposed upper hierarchy, feel the heat?