(On the occasion of the World Water Day, The Quint is re-publishing this story on struggle for water in the capital city of Delhi from its archives. The story first appeared on 21 March 2018)
Huge homes and luxury cars line the left side of this dusty main road and to the right, a narrow lane leads up to JJ Camp, an urban slum. Over 1,500 families in the heart of this posh south Delhi neighbourhood don’t have taps and rely on a whimsical Delhi Jal Board tanker for drinking water. They may not have to walk kilometres, but they do have to wait countless hours, every morning, to fill water.
As news of the Marathwada drought hit home, I was one among the many reporters who pitched to travel to the drought-hit zone, but then didn’t. Instead, I visited JJ Camp several times over the next few weeks, and there I met Shanti.
We all know Shanti. She is fifty-five, works as domestic help, and her husband washes cars. They have six children and her eighteen year old son is paralysed. Like many families who live in urban slums across the country, Shanti lives in a six by eight house. She spends six hours collecting four buckets of water for eight members of her family. Shanti is a warrior. One among the millions who fights the water war, everyday.
This is a ‘save water, save life’ textbook short-film. One you have seen many times before. But this story needs to be told and told again, every summer, every winter and more importantly, every time it rains till we save water, save lives.
Cameraperson: Sanjoy DebEditor: Kunal Mehra
(This piece was originally published on 18 May 2016. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark World Water Day)