My friend Borkar, a journalist in Delhi, was desperate for a story about the plight of the common man in the face of political patronage, bureaucratic bungling, inefficiency, incompetence, bribery, corruption, nepotism and all kinds of irregularities.
As he was sipping tea at a small restaurant, he happened to look at the T.V. mounted in one corner. There was this near-breathless rookie reporter talking about a four-year-old child who had fallen down an un-capped bore-well which had been abandoned because it was dry.
Tragic though the situation was, he saw a potential human-interest angle. Firstly, there was a water-famine in Delhi because Haryana had greatly reduced their normal water supply to the capital. In a knee-jerk reaction the administration got all the well-drilling contractors on the job.
They were given blanket-permissions to drill bore-wells anywhere they could. They were to abandon the site if no water was struck at a depth of 200 meters and move to the next site even if it was just 30 meters away.
Given this carte blanche, every drilling contractor jumped at the opportunity. In their hurry and greed they did not cap these unproductive bores of about 300 mm. diameter. These uncapped bore-holes have become so ubiquitous that every two weeks or so, some playful or inquisitive child falls down one of these holes.
The water-resources department has now handed over these abandoned wells to the health department who have resourcefully turned this lemon into lemonade. Their officers, working with some M.B.A.s, have come up with the idea to kill two birds with one stone.
They have got the sanitation department engineers to mount commodes over these abandoned bores, obviating the cost of capping.
The big bonus lemonade comes from the fact that the less-fortunate denizens of Delhi no longer need to urinate and defecate in the open.
In the absence of water, some contractor can get a dry-lease for managing these toilets. Just like Air India is now dry-leasing 50 of its new aircraft for want of paying passengers.