Delhi people forced to abandon social distancing to get water, claims BJP

New Delhi: The BJP on Thursday assailed the AAP government by claiming that there was a water crisis in the city that had forced people to neglect social distancing and hand hygiene thus making them more vulnerable to coronavirus infection.

BJP's national spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi in a press conference also claimed that the tanker mafia was operating in the city and people were paying upto Rs 10,000 to get water even though the Kejriwal government takes credit for free water supply.

Vice-chairman of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) Raghav Chadha termed the BJP's allegations and claims as "baseless".

"I would like to tell our political adversaries to do some home-work before levelling baseless allegations. I would like to inform them that till about 2015, only 926 colonies in Delhi had under-water pipelines, the current stats show a 67 percent rise in the coverage of underwater pipelines, taking the number to 1,550 colonies," Chadha said.

Lekhi, however claimed, "The people of Delhi have been so striken by water problem that they do not even care about social distancing when water tankers arrive and crowd gathers for getting water".

Lekhi, showing a video purportedly of Indrapuri area under Rajendra Nagar Assembly constituency represented by Chadha, claimed that people were struggling due to the lack of water even in his own area.

"Delhi government has failed to provide sufficient water to people to even clean hands to avoid infection of coronavirus. People have to wash their hands to avoid infection but they are not able to do this due to lack of water," she claimed.

She alleged that despite the AAP government's promise to provide free water, people were paying Rs 10,000 per month to the tanker mafia to get water.

"Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should break his silence and tell the people what action has been taken by his government against tanker mafia in Delhi," she said.

Lekhi claimed that Rs 1,200 crore was provided by the Central government in 2015 to resolve the problem of water shortage in the city but no account of the money or new pipelines laid with it has been given by the Delhi government.

Chadha said orders have been issued to seek deployment of security by local SHO so as to ensure social distancing norms are complied with while water tankers service the people.

"We further appeal to all persons, both police personnel and the beneficiaries of water tanker supply, to ensure strict compliance of social distancing norms," he said.

The DJB is catering to a surge in water demand in peak summer by deploying additional tankers wherever water supply is not sufficient. As many as 4,500 tubewells have been made functional for the purpose of further augmenting the water supply at locations where there is scarcity, he said.

"At a time when the frontline workers of DJB are risking their lives to provide water to each and every household, with many of them contracted the Covid-19 disease in their line of duty, these allegations by BJP only impacts the morale of the selfless DJB workers. I appeal to BJP to let sanity prevail and to not politicise this humanitarian crisis," he said.

He also said that when AAP came to office in 2015, only 53 percent of Delhi's population had access to water. "However, within half a decade 94 percent of Delhi's population is getting piped water due to prowess of AAP government under leadership of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal," he added.

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