Struggles over Water, Struggles over Power

Gurgaon is an open drain of human energy, converting it into tiredness and commodities. It is a drain of water and power. Residents fight back against the city, fight over the energy flow. As it seems on the surface, urban and rural are in clinch over power-distribution. In Faridabad industrialists complain about the power-shortages, making it impossible for them to keep up with global competition, while farmers in the hinterland say that they cannot irrigate their land due to lack of electricity. We document some struggles over water and (social) power.

Water

Gurgaon is built in a private rush, not caring much for infrastructure. Water gets who invests in private tubewells, who can effort the technological drill. Once the crisis comes to the fore the state calls for ‘collective efforts’ and ‘self-management’ and ‘building mass movements’. From the rulers point of view these ‘mass movements’ are supposed to look different from the riots and violence in in Delhi, Shahbad and Rohtak in July 2010.

Gurgaon is facing a shortage of 20 million gallons of water every day
“The present population of Gurgaon is 20 lakh. As per norms the city requires 360 million litres daily (MLD) or 80 million gallon (MG) of water supply. At present, the water works at village Basai has a capacity of delivering 60 MG of water. So there is a net shortage of 20 MG,” said the spokesperson of the residents organisation, Mission Gurgaon Development. There are many areas in the city where the distribution system has not yet been laid and these areas have to depend entirely on tubewells for water supply, the study said. “The entire cyber park of 144 acres has been drawing ground water for many years. Similarly, HUDA has not laid the distribution system beyond 55 sectors,” he added. Therefore a fare amount of population of Gurgaon city is still dependent upon the underground water. This heavy withdrawal of groundwater is resulting into lowering of water table by 5.0 metres per year.
(The Tribune, 1st of June 2010)

Water racket unearthed; 6 illegal borewells sealed
The district administration today sealed six borewells being illegally operated for selling water in Delhi and Gurgaon. The team found another illegal borewell operating at Ekta Service Station in Sector 5 of Gurgaon, which was also sealed. The water being illegally extracted from this borewell was reportedly being sold in nearby areas through water tankers.
(The Tribune, 29th of June 2010)

Don’t look to govt for water: Deepender
MP calls for collective efforts to check groundwater depletion. Congress MP from Rohtak Deepender Singh Hooda has exhorted the local residents to put in collective efforts to check the problem of water table depletion in Gurgaon. Without waiting for either the district administration or the government or any other organisation to take up the issue, every citizen should contribute for water conservation, then only our future generations will be able to get water,  the MP stated while addressing a GIREM Gurgaon summit on infrastructure, business and energy connect organised at Epicentre in Sector 44 here late last evening. The top priority, as of now, should be to address the problem of water table depletion,  he said, adding that in Gurgaon and nearby areas, the exploitation of underground water was 300 per cent more than the seepage rate. This means that against one litre of water that goes into the earth, we are extracting three litres from it. Gurgaon does not have any perennial source of water and presently depends on the Yamuna, in which water has been decreasing at the rate of 5 per cent per year for the past nearly 20 years, the MP pointed out. Hooda appealed to the gathering comprising builders, realtors and industrialists, to help build a mass movement on the issue so that the people realised the gravity of the problem and played a proactive role.
(The Tribune, 28th of May 2010)

Protest for water turns violent – 10 injured in arson, stonepelting in Kondli
New Delhi: More than 10 people, including policemen, were injured in the arson and stone-pelting that followed when police tried to disperse about 300 residents who had blocked roads in protest against negligible water supply in their colonies for the last seven days in the Kondli area of east Delhi this morning. Two buses and three private cars, passing the roads at the time when police tried to open the road blockade, were damaged by the protestors. According to police sources, several motorcycles of the police department were also damaged by the unruly protestors who hurled stones at the police. The situation could be controlled only after two hours of police action. The locals alleged that there had been no supply of water in the area for the past seven days and despite repeated complaints to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), no action has been taken. “What other option did we have if not to get on the road? It is seven days and there is no water supply in our houses. Nobody wants to hear us because we stay in unauthorized colonies,” alleged Singh.
(The Tribune, 6th of July 2010)

Now, anger pours out on highway – Shahbad flood-hit block GT Road
Shahbad:Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on GT Road near the flood-affected town of Shahbad as angry residents blocked traffic in protest against the failure of the administration to restore electricity and water supply even after the floods had receded. With cell phone services disrupted in parts of Ambala, Shahbad and Kurukshetra, the stranded commuters faced much harassment. The traffic remained disrupted for about 40 minutes till the administration was able to make the mob see reason. A resident alleged that there had been no electricity and drinking water since the past two days.
(The Tribune, 8th of July 2010)

Villagers thrash staff, want polluting unit shifted
Rohtak: Residents of Mokhara village in Meham subdivision in the district are up in arms against the functioning of an industrial unit in the residential limits of the village alleging that it has been causing acute pollution, affecting the life of the villagers and their cattle. The protest of the locals against the unit turned violent last evening when some villagers allegedly forced their entry into the factory and thrashed employees. The complaint of violence was lodged by the Director of Bharat Chemical Factory, Ajay Gupta, who claimed that a mob of over 300 persons barged into the factory and indulged in violence and beat up the staff. The villagers have been demanding that the unit be shifted elsewhere as the chemical pollutants emitted by it were causing air and groundwater pollution, which had led to various kinds of diseases among both human beings and the cattle.
The police registered a case against over 300 villagers.
(The Tribune, 12th of July 2010)

Power

Farmers block highway over power shortage
Ambala: Traffic on the National Highway 72-73, near Naraingarh, in Ambala district was blocked for nearly three hours yesterday by hundreds of farmers. They were angry over acute power shortage and feared that they will suffer huge losses if the authorities do not streamline the power supply. “Thousands of hectares of land in our district have dried up due to the drastic fall of power supply in the district. Power-run tube wells can lift only a little water,” said Darshan Singh, a resident of Naraingarh. “We fear huge losses in the current season, as we cannot afford to irrigate lands with diesel-run shallow pumps. Despite the government’s earlier declarations that farmers will get electricity for minimum eight hours, we get power for just three to four hours daily,” they alleged.
(The Tribune, 24th of June 2010)

Villagers lock up substation
Jind: The 132-kV substation at Nagura village in the district was locked up by the residents in protest against the poor supply of power from the past few days. This has been fourth such incident in the district during the ongoing summer season when the villagers have locked up a substation or held a demonstration against the poor power supply in the rural parts. Hundreds of villagers assembled at the substation today and asked the staff to vacate the place. It is reported that the protesters, who raised anti-government slogans, threatened to lock up power department offices against the failure of the department to supply adequate power to the village. The seizure came to an end after senior officials, including a DSP, reached the spot and pacified the agitators.
(The Tribune, 29th of June 2010)

Power staff stir
Rohtak: The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Haryana State Power Corporation Employees Union has announced to launch a statewide agitation from June 29 in protest against the state government’s failure to meet its long-standing demands and for carrying on with the policies of privatisation of the Power Department and its services.
(The Tribune, 24th of June 2010)

Power staff held captive for 14 hrs
Jind: At least five officials of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN), including an executive engineer and an SDO, were held captive by residents of Kurad village of Narwana subdivision here for 14 hours in protest against the poor supply of electricity. The officials were set free this morning after intervention of the police and senior officials. The villagers did not allow them to come out till the work was over. It is reported there had been an altercation over the work on transformer’s replacement to be done on the same night. While the employees and workers’ union of the power department staged a dharna in protest against the incident and threatened to stall work of power distribution and repairs till the safe release of all officials, the latter were set free this morning at 10.30 am following talks between the villagers and the district administration.
(The Tribune, 1st of July 2010)

Villagers hold up traffic over power
Jind: Hundreds of residents from four villages in the district blocked traffic near Alewa village on the Jind- Assandh road today in protest against the shortage of power in these villages. The road blockade, which continued for over one hour, was lifted following an assurance given by officials of the department concerned that they would address the issue. The protesters, who belonged to Alewa, Katwal, Gohiya and Khanda villages, came out on the main road, connecting the district with Assandh and Karnal. Irked by the erratic supply of power, villagers from Hinjrawan Kalan and Hinjrawan Khurd today laid a siege to their power substation and raised slogans against the functioning of the power utilities. Later, officials reached the spot and convinced the villagers to end their protest, assuring them of a better power supply in the future.
(The Tribune, 4th of July 2010)

Power demand at new high
New Delhi:It seems as if the power demand in national capital is hell bent on breaking its own records. It is the third time that a new record has been set by the power demand in the city in the past two months. The demand in the Delhi today surged past the earlier high of 4668 MW while touching 4720 MW in the evening. In June last year, the highest demand was recorded at 4,337 MW, since then there has been more than 8 per cent increase in demand.
(The Tribune, 1st of July 2010)

Industry reels under power shortage
Faridabad: The local industry is reeling under an acute shortage of power. An office-bearer of the FIA claimed that the industrial production had fallen by about 20 per cent due to the power shortage. Jain said the industry should get at least 15 hours of power supply to compete in the global market. Factories use “captive power source” like capital-intensive generator sets to keep their production going for an additional five hours. However, this was highly expensive as the per unit cost of power generated by gen sets worked about to about Rs 11. The cost of power per unit supplied by the department was about Rs 5.
(The Tribune, 24th of May 2010)