Water tends to be taken for granted by people living in urban areas. However, for Mumbai’s M-East Ward, regular water supply is practically a mirage.

The M-East ward, which covers Chembur, Govandi, Mankhurd, Trombay and Mahul, is the most densely populated and the poorest area in Mumbai. Eighty-five percent of its population lives in slums with a severe lack of sanitation or water. Most households lack a regular water supply, and whatever they do have is heavily contaminated.

Since the slums are mostly illegal, the municipal corporation is under no pressure to provide water. No wonder a water mafia prevails in the area. Its members sell water to residents through water tankers, for anywhere between Rs 5 and Rs 40 for a can. Prices tend to soar in summer.

In 2014, the Bombay High Court directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to supply water to these illegal slums, but the order is yet to be implemented. The little meagre supply of water that is available is a cesspool of infection.