Who Owns the Water ?

Installation Mixed Media, 3 mts x 30 mts, 2017

This land-work (or rather water-work) was executed in Delhi, the city where Galhotra lives and sadly also one of the most polluted cities in the world. As the river Yamuna, considered sacred in the traditional textual sources, crosses the city with its 2% capacity, state politics play a detrimental role by diverting the natural course of the river.

The clean water of the Yamuna gets adulterated with industrial and residential sewage, converting the holy river to a cesspool, which in turn becomes hazardous for the aquatic and the agricultural life around the river.

‘Who Owns the Water?’ is a question pertinent to the survival of the inhabitants of the city who drink the (un)treated water of the river Yamuna. It is threatening that half the treatment plants for the filthy sewage, don’t even work and what the people get to use is mostly contaminated water.

The dirty, contaminated Yamuna flows for another 742 km to the confluence in Allahabad with two other sacred rivers of India, polluting them too. The installation also alludes to the dated cultural custom (still practised at a few places) of offering the dead-body to perish in the running river water. While the practice seems bizarre today with river courses altered and dams built, Galhotra mimics the custom typographically. Instead of a dead-body on bamboo poles, she floats on the dying river the ethical and democratic question: ‘Who Owns the Water?’