Sangam Vihar is a colony in the south end of Delhi, predominantly a working class residential colony. There is severe shortage of water supply in the Sangam Vihar. In large parts of Sangam Vihar, water supply is non-existent and people are forced to carry cans of water for kilometres. The Lok Raj Samiti of Sangam Vihar held a meeting on 28th June 2015 evening in Gupta Colony of Sangam Vihar to discuss this problem. Shri Mohania, who has been elected as the member of Legislative Assembly from Sangam Vihar had been cordially invited by the Samiti to address the people on this issue.
Youth of the area had made all the preparations for the meeting – decorating the stage, making seating arrangements and mobilizing the residents to come and take part in the meeting. Hundreds of residents, young and old, men and women came to attend the meeting from the local area. The banner on the stage read, "Drinking water connections to every home!" and “Establish committees for struggle at the local, national and all-India level to assert the rights of the people!".
The meeting began with a rousing song "aao uthein mere desh vasiyon . . .” calling on all to come together, rise up and take up the struggle for a better life.
Lalit of the Sangam Vihar Lok Raj Samiti welcomed all the participants. He invited Shri Birju Nayak, Convener, Delhi Regional Council of Lok Raj Sangathan, Shrimati Sucharita and Shrimati Poonam to take their place on the stage. Shri Likes Kumar who had stood in the elections for Delhi Assembly from Sangam Vihar constituency was invited to give the opening speech.
Shri Lokesh Kumar said that all political parties make promises to solve our problems but we know that we cannot sit back in the hope that these promises will be kept by the party that is in power. The Lok Raj Samiti here is not supporting the politics of this or that party but wants to advance the politics of the people. When no action has been taken in the past one year, then we have to take up the struggle for our rights ourselves and press our demands in a united manner. He was optimistic about achieving our aim because both the younger generation and the older generation had come together for this meeting. The youth has the energy to change the conditions and the older generation has the wisdom to guide this struggle, he said.
Shri Birju Nayak addressed the gathering and said that the Indian tradition, from the ancient times, was for the ruler to discharge his responsibility of fulfilling the basic needs of the people and water is the most basic of human needs. Our present day rulers, however, have abdicated their responsibility. He said that when electricity connections can be provided to every home here, then it is not difficult to provide piped and metered water connections if the government decides to do so.
Shri Birju further said that before the elections, all the parties promise that they will solve the problems of the people. He questioned, then how was it that, after the elections are over, they don’t work together to solve such an important problem as water supply? He said that we cannot sit back any longer since our experience shows that election promises made to the working people mean little for political parties once they come to power. He added that LRS would support Shri Mohania, if he were to take concrete steps to solve this problem. He emphasized that people must not be divided along party lines but must unite together to solve our common problems. In conclusion, he declared that we will extend our cooperation if the government takes up this problem for solution. But we will be united and ready to put pressure on the government if they find excuses or delay the work.
Among the other speakers, Shrimati Sucharita pointed out that it was the people of Sangam Vihar who had elected the government and they pay tax to the government as working people as well as when they buy any item of consumption. Then it is the responsibility of the government to make the basic necessities of life available to everyone. We have to fight for our rights and for this we have to be organised and united. She called on all to join the Lok Raj Samiti, the fighting organisation of the people, and take the campaign forward. Prof. Bharat pointed out that technically it was possible to work out the sizes of pipes required and the piping network to supply water to everyone. He cautioned the residents that if they connect to the existing pipes haphazardly then they may end up spending a lot of money but not getting water in their pipe. Therefore the best approach was to demand from the government that it plans and implements a suitable piping network. Shrimati Poonam pointed out that as human beings, we have the right to expect the government to provide safe water in adequate quantity. She said that, instead of solving the problems of the people, the government tries to discredit those who are fighting for their rights. She explained this by giving the example of resident doctors who were on strike to demand better health facilities for the people with more beds in hospitals, more doctors and availability of medicines, etc., but the government was trying to portray as if doctors were responsible for the suffering of the patients.
Comrade Prakash Rao pointed out that the residents of Sangam Vihar work throughout Delhi and help to keep Delhi running. It was ironical that they were unable to keep their own homes running because of the government’s failure to provide basic facilities like water and sewer lines. He expressed his happiness to see the unity and resolve of the people for the solution of their water supply problem. He said that when people are united and willing to come out on the streets, then they cannot be defeated. He pointed out that the political parties serve the agenda of the vested interests and do nothing to solve the problems of the people. Before the elections they suddenly become concerned about these problems and take some action for show. People understand this now and are getting united and organised to get their demands fulfilled right after the elections. He also appealed to the residents to encourage their children to become active in trying to solve their problems. He also encouraged women and girls to come forward as equals in this struggle to make their campaign for water invincible.
After this, many people of the locality addressed the gathering. They were unanimous in praising the efforts of the youth of the area in trying to bring everyone together for the solution of this most important problem in their lives. They all appreciated Lok Raj Sangathan for taking the initiative in this regard and expressed their resolve in getting organised in their local samiti to work out the best way to go about solving the problem of water supply.
Many residents talked about the gravity of the problem in their area. They said that earlier they used to get water supply from the borewell in the Kaali mandir but that is no longer available. Subsequently, water from the bore well in Gali no 6 was made available a few times a month and now even that has become dry. Now the Jal Board does not even supply water once a month. People have to send their children with water cans to fetch water from up to 2 km distance. It is so sad to see young children fetching water in the mornings, when they should be going to their school. The lives of so many youth are being ruined because the government is not providing water.
Many people talked about the excuse given by the governments that it is not able to provide water because they were living in an illegal colony. Residents vehemently condemned this attitude. They pointed out that they are not considered illegal when it comes to casting their votes to elect a government. The residents have ration cards and electricity connections – how could they be considered illegal? They declared that they were not illegal but the parties and the governments were illegal for not providing the most essential necessity of life, namely, water. They wanted photos and videos of children of Sangam Vihar, who are forced to carry water for miles every day, sent to the politicians and put up on the social media for everyone to see the violation of their basic rights taking place right here, in the capital of the country.
Residents stressed the need to follow up on the petition that was submitted by LRS on behalf of the Sangam Vihar Lok Raj Samiti and wanted Shri Mohania to speedily get water pipes installed in all localities. They were unanimous in holding the government responsible for ensuring safe and adequate water supply to all residents of Delhi. In light of the failure of Shri Mohania to come to address them in this meeting, some residents expressed their reservation about the commitment of the government in addressing their problems and emphasised the need to strengthen their samitis and take forward this campaign for water supply in a united manner. They eagerly came forward to give their names for being part of the delegation that has to meet the various authorities of the government to push for action.
The meeting ended with the song, "dekho rang badal raha hai aasman ka …” which talks about the awakening of the people and their struggle for a better society.