A worsening drought in the capital of India, New Delhi, is magnifying the vast inequality between the rich and the poor. In the city of more than 20 million people, there are a group of elites like politicians, civil servants, and corporate lobbyists who live in the central part of the city, who pay very little to get unlimited supply of piped water. On the other hand, those living in the slums have water delivered in tankers, and there is a daily struggle to get supplies of water with increasing prices due to depleting supplies. 

The limited and increasingly expensive water supply in the densely populated settlement poses a struggle for all living there. Even the quality of water is of concern as there are people falling ill from drinking water sold by local suppliers. 

Other issues related to water supply are also present. According to residents, there are private operators associated with criminal gangs and local politicians taking over water supply boreholes illegally and subjecting people to exploitative pricing of water. In another part of northwestern Delhi, water from local taps is too toxic to use, and people have to rely on the government tanker that comes only once a day. Fights frequently break out as people rush over to the arriving tanker, and there were three reported deaths last year in the midst of such scuffles. 

Read the full article on Channel NewsAsia: In drought-hit Delhi, the haves get limitless water, the poor fight for every drop


Water is an important resource for human survival, energy, development, and food production. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognised water and sanitation as a human right. It is a recognised global challenge where less developed places have unequal access to clean, reliable sources of water. 

Water is a highly politicised issue as it is not as simple as merely providing water supply. The limited resources to develop infrastructure and other issues surrounding water have a hand in contributing to water-related conflicts. However, there are also non-governmental bodies, such as World Vision, working towards providing water access by rallying the help of people all around the world. They promote awareness of the global water crisis, and provide ways for people to help. With the inadequacy of governments providing a basic necessity, who else but the people with means to give, can alleviate these issues? 

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. What do you think local communities with lack of access to clean water can do to improve their situation? 
  2. Realistically, who is responsible for providing clean water? 

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘teeming’: swarming with 
  2. ‘depleting’: using up the supply of