Delhi faces water crisis as deadly caste protests hit key source

Indian residents from the Jat community block the Chandigarh-Shimla highway amid violent caste protests in Panchkula on February 21, 2016. Ten people have died in caste protests which triggered widespread arson and looting in a north Indian state, police said February 21, as New Delhi faced a water crisis after mobs shut down a key supply. Thousands of troops with shoot-on-sight orders were deployed on February 20 in Haryana state, a day after week-long protests turned violent with rioters setting fire to homes and railway stations and blocking highways. AFP PHOTO / STR / AFP / STRDEL

New Delhi / AFP

Much of New Delhi’s water supply was cut off on Monday after members of an influential Indian caste sabotaged a canal as part of protests seeking preferential treatment that have killed at least 19 people.
A representative of the Jat caste said they had called off their week-long protests which saw thousands of troops deployed in Haryana, after the government of the northern state accepted their demands.
But the capital’s water board was still striving to restore full supplies to the city of 17 million.
India sent troops to secure the canal in Haryana after Jat protesters—demanding a quota for their caste in public service jobs and higher education —seized it on Saturday and diverted the water flow away from the capital.
By Monday morning the army had regained control and was assessing the damage.
But with the water flow into the capital reduced by more than two-thirds, schools and many businesses remained shut and authorities urged people to ration water.
Delhi’s water board said it had been forced to limit supplies to the city, which receives little rain and has long struggled to provide enough water for its rapidly growing population.
Just 240 million gallons was being produced after the attack compared to the usual 820 million gallons a day, it said. “There is extensive damage to the canal and it will take some time to fully restore the supply to Delhi,” said water board spokeswoman Sanjam Cheema.
“Engineers are working and hopefully the work will be completed by evening.”
Thousands of troops had been deployed to Haryana on Saturday with orders to shoot on sight after week-long protests by members of the caste turned violent, with rioters setting fire to homes and railway stations and blocking highways.
The protests eased on Sunday after Haryana’s government agreed to the Jats’ demand for preferential access to sought-after government jobs and university places under India’s caste-based quota system.
A representative of the Jats, traditional farmers who make up the single largest community in the state with nearly eight million members, said they had accepted the offer
and would call off the protests

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