In a city known for its vertiginous inequalities, the shortage affects people from both upscale gated communities and dust-blown slums, as every day, the city’s supply falls more than 160 million gallons short.
Most residents have piped water for just a couple hours a day, and almost a quarter have none at all. With a leaky water infrastructure long overwhelmed by new arrivals, New Delhi is grappling with a dizzying social and environmental challenge, worsened by chaotic management. For many, it is a distressing reminder of a daily reality that lags behind India’s superpower dreams.
While New Delhi has had water troubles for decades, the shortage has become critical in recent years as the city’s population has grown with little or no planning, rising from 9 million in 1991 to almost 17 million today.
Even many of the wealthiest neighborhoods get water for just an hour in the morning, with residents rushing to turn on pumps and fill storage tanks when the municipal supply flows.