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Water tankers rush in as Jodhpur can't take the heat

JODHPUR, RAJASTHAN chief minister Ashok Gehlot's constituency, is reeling under a water shortage. Practically the only water available to the residents of the appropriately named 'Sun City' comes from private tankers; and one has to pay an hefty amount for this. The few hundred private tankers supplying water to Jodhpur residents are not good enough to meet the demand that has shot up with soaring temperatures in the past three weeks.

On an average, the city needs 500 lakh gallons of water daily. Om Prakash, a tanker-owner in Paota, said he had been supplying around eight tankers all over the city every day.

Tankers are something not everyone can afford. A tankerful of water may cost anything between Rs 60 and Rs 200, depending on the capacity of the tanker and the distance the water is ferried. Supplying water to villages near Jodhpur city has become a good way of making money.

"People can't afford to pay such a huge amount per month for water,"said councillor Bhanwar Kanwar, who has raised the issue several times, and also written to the, chief minister. "All we have ever got are assurances that the problem would be set right."

A desperate Kanwar had recently threatened to sit on a fast-unto-death if the problem was not resolved by May 8. But after receiving an assurance from the Superintending Engineer of the Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED), Rajendra Mehta, she has put her plans on hold.

Officials, however, deny the crisis is really very big. "It is true that people have not been receiving water at great force. But there is no crisis as such," Mehta said. PHED has been supplying water very day, he insisted.

Mehta also denied that the problem had anything to do with the capacity of the filter plant. "We have been supplying 360 gallons of water through filter stations. The remaining supply is from tube-wells and in the form of raw water," he said.

Mehta said the department had been trying to increase the capacity at Kailana Lake. Besides, three water reservoirs would be constructed under an Asian Development Bank project.

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