December 3, 2009 / 12:50 PM / 10 years ago

One killed in Mumbai water shortage protests

MUMBAI, Dec 3 (Reuters) - One man was killed and about a dozen injured in a violent protest on Thursday against water cuts in India’s largest city after the worst monsoon in nearly four decades left Mumbai authorities scrambling to ration supplies.

Mumbai is facing an estimated water shortfall of about 400 million litres of the 4,300 million litres needed daily.

Many parts of the city of 18 million inhabitants only receive water a few hours in the day, forcing residents to buy water at exorbitant rates from touts. Businesses are dealing with a 30 percent cut in supply.

India’s growing water shortages are seen as a potential dangerous trigger for wider social unrest. The government has been criticised for failing to address water and electricity shortages, both from industry and the 1.1 billion population.

Mumbai’s civic authorities have said the water cuts are essential to ensure supplies last till next June, when the monoon arrives. It has warned the cuts could get worse toward summer.

Hundreds of residents, waving flags and shouting slogans, blocked roads outside the corporation building on Thursday to protest a 15 percent water cut for homes that has thrown life out of gear for many of the city’s residents.

Police in riot gear clashed with the protesters and beat back the crowds with batons when they began scaling the gates of the corporation building, a senior police official said.

"It was a mob scene and they were trying to enter the building. They were unruly and there were acts of vandalism," said R.K. Padmanabhan, a junior police commissioner.

Padmanabhan said that the man who died had suffered a heart attack. About a dozen people suffered minor injuries, he said. (Reporting by Rina Chandran; Editing by Paul de Bendern and David Fox) ((rina.chandran@thomsonreuters.com; +91 22 6636 9251; Reuters Messaging: rina.chandran.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to newsfeedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com))

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