Photographer: Hindustan Times/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Protesters Disrupt Water Supplies to India's Capital

Updated on
  • Unrest in Haryana state blocked about half Delhi's supply
  • Soldiers secure canal that was affected by demonstrators

Indian security forces sought to ease disruption to New Delhi’s water supply after deadly unrest in a neighboring state affected more than half the amount piped to 18 million people in the capital.

Protesters in Haryana over the weekend shut off a canal carrying water to New Delhi amid demonstrations over caste rights that also forced the country’s top automaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. to close some factories. As many as 5,000 security personnel were deployed in the region to restore order.

The army has taken control of the canal’s gates, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote in a Twitter post on Monday. Water Minister Kapil Mishra said affected supplies should be partially restored toward the end of the day.

Some 480 million gallons of the 900 million gallons supplied daily to the national capital region were affected, according to the city’s water utility Delhi Jal Board. Schools were shut on Monday and tankers fanned out across the worst-affected northern and western parts of the city to help residents cope with expected shortages.

Maruti Suzuki said disruption to component supplies led to a weekend halt in output at factories in Manesar and Gurgaon that jointly produce about 5,000 vehicles a day. The company hasn’t decided on when production will resume, spokesman Puneet Dhawan said Monday. 

Maruti Suzuki

The automaker’s shares fell as much as 2.4 percent and were trading 1.5 percent lower at 3,524 rupees at 12:51 p.m. in Mumbai.
The demonstrations in Haryana were led by members of the Jat community, who are demanding benefits such as government jobs and college admission under India’s affirmative action policy. The Jats comprise nearly 30 percent of Haryana’s population and are seeking to be included in a designation known as Other Backward Class.

More Rights

Haryana’s Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu said the state government will approve legislation giving Jats more rights and that a central government panel will consider following suit nationally. He called for an end to the protests.

One civilian was killed Saturday when troops opened fire on rioters in Jhajjar, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of New Delhi, according to the army. Press Trust of India said at least 12 have died with 150 injured, citing P. K. Das, an additional chief secretary in Haryana.

Airlines including SpiceJet Ltd. and Air India Ltd. laid on extra flights to help clear stranded travelers. Haryana surrounds the capital on three sides.

India’s caste system is a method of social stratification, based largely on Hindu beliefs of purity. The government’s reservation system guarantees a wide range of benefits -- such as school placement, access to state jobs and certain welfare programs -- to lower castes and indigenous tribes.

— With assistance by Nc Bipindra, Anindya Upadhyay, Subramaniam Sharma, Natalie Obiko Pearson, and Unni Krishnan

(Updates with Maruti's share price in sixth paragraph.)
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