Jarring move

DJB's packaged water 'Jal' not quite the answer to Delhi's water woes

Published: Monday 30 September 2002

the Delhi Jal Board's (djb) latest offering, a la Marie Antoinette's cake-for-bread option, defeats logic. Because at a time when the capital is reeling under an acute water shortage, the board has chosen to launch an ambitious packaged water project -- Jal. To keep this scheme afloat the djb will draw upon its existing meagre resources, which will plunge the city into a deeper crisis. The Rs 25 lakh-plant, which churns out 20 litre jars of packaged water, was recently inaugurated in south Delhi. It requires two lakh litres of 'treated' piped water supply every day. djb sources, quoting figures of 2000 (which have not been updated), admit that though the demand of water in Delhi is 800 million gallons per day (mgd), the supply is only 650 mgd. Even the quality of djb water is suspect. "People are forced to buy packaged water, as the djb supply is not fit for consumption," says Vinod K Jain, chairperson, Tapas, a New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation.

Instead of addressing such pressing problems, P K Tripathi, chief executive officer, djb, seems to have gone on a tangent: "This scheme will inculcate the value of water in people. When people pay a price, only then do they value a commodity." Sadly the djb is not applying the same principle for its piped water supply, where tariffs have remained low. It is apparent that bottled water is not the solution for Delhi's water woes. But djb has taken the easy way out, leaving its primary responsibility to get a slice of the tempting profits, in the bottled water industry.

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