On 9th September 2011, residents of Sanjay Colony, under the leadership of the Lok Raj Samiti, staged a day-long dharna in front of the office of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) office in Okhla Industrial Estate Phase-2. Besides registering their complaint against not being given water and ill-treatment by the Jal Board, the residents demanded an end to party-based politics in the operations of the Jal Board and for provision of water connection to the residential colonies of the area.
Despite a heavy downpour, the residents took out a rally from Kalkaji Bus Depot to the office of the Jal Board where they sat in dharna. The Jal Board office resounded with slogans like “Down with the MLA-Jal Board nexus!” “No water in Sanjay Colony since 35 years, but Congress & BJP are only hungry for power!” “We want a tap in every house, not having to beg from the tanker”, “Delhi Jal Board is for all of us, not only for some people”, “Stop discriminating between ‘ordinary’ and ‘MLA’s favourites’!”
Prior to this, the Lok Raj Samiti of this area had taken out a demonstration on 28th July and closed down the Jal Board Office for the day. It is to be noted that local Lok Raj Samiti had initiated a mass campaign against the influence of the party politics in the DJB. Street corner meetings were being organized in the course of this campaign.
One can see the sectarianism of party politics in this situation. DJB discriminates between the aam aadmi and those favored by the MLA. The Jal Board takes orders from whichever Party the local MLA is from. These leaders provide water to some favoured residents and deprive others of it.
Shri Ashok Kumar, President of the Samiti, addressing the crowd, pointed out that the supply from the booster was insufficient for the 50,000 strong population of Sanjay Colony. The pipeline has rotted in several places. DJB supplies water by tanker but this is not enough for everyone. Since many years, the residents have been asking for a new pipeline to be laid.
Lokesh Kumar, Secretary of the Samiti, reported that the Samiti's representatives met with the DJB officials on 18th August. At this meeting, the DJB promised in writing that they would increase the supply of water through the tanker; that they would pay heed to the complaints recorded in their office. But the DJB officials have not kept their promises.
The residents repeated their complaints about the DJB that the DJB, in supplying water through its tankers over a distance of just 2 km. collects between Rs.2-5 for every tanker load (35 litres).
Bijju Nayak, the Delhi Council Secretary of Lok Raj Sangathan, pointed out that the biggest block to the united struggle of people for their rights is the prevailing party system. Anyone not in agreement with the elected representatives – Corporator, MLA or MP, will likely have to wage a long struggle to secure justice or his/her basic rights. There are many colonies like this one, where the MLAs and MPs have been playing water politics. These colonies are deprived of basic facilities, mainly water. The various parties split the unity of the people to keep alive their vote-politics. He said, we have to unite to end this party politics that thrives on divisiveness. This is necessary for the fulfillment of people's basic needs by the government.
The dharna continued for the whole day. Many activists – Meera Devi, Sanjit, Subodh Goswami, Santosh Kumar and others, addressed the demonstrators.