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Monday July 22, 2024

Delhi minister stages hunger strike for more water to city amid extreme heat

By Reuters
June 25, 2024
Residents use pipes to fill their containers with drinking water from a water tanker during a hot day in New Delhi, India, June 24, 2024. — Reuters
Residents use pipes to fill their containers with drinking water from a water tanker during a hot day in New Delhi, India, June 24, 2024. — Reuters

NEW DELHI: A Delhi city minister has started an indefinite hunger strike to demand more drinking water for India’s capital, where taps in some of its poorest neighbourhoods are running nearly dry in the middle of searing heat.

“There are 2.8 million people in the city who are aching for just a drop of water,” Delhi Water Minister Atishi said on Monday, the fourth day of her fast. Millions of Indians face water shortages every summer when water demand rises in farms, offices and homes against a limited supply, but a prolonged heatwave this year has worsened the shortfall, including in Delhi and the southern tech hub of Bengaluru.

Delhi relies on the Yamuna River that runs through the capital for most of its water needs but the river slows down during dry summer months, causing shortages that lead to protests and calls for better water conservation. Atishi blamed the neighbouring farming state of Haryana for guzzling up a large share of river water.

Haryana’s government responded that it was Delhi’s mismanagement that was causing water shortages. Experts said a federal-level review of decades-old water sharing pacts was needed to accommodate population growth.