Capital in grip of water crisis, car washing centres stare at loss, closure | Delhi News

Since opening its doors in 2013, Shine Cars in Kalkaji has had a loyal clientele from all over the city, especially South Delhi, who come to get their vehicles cleaned. In a day, the store, run by 42-year-old Lucky Maurya, sees 7-8 customers. For over a week now, however, business has taken a hit owing to Delhi’s water crisis.

According to Maurya, they had to scale back on certain services like the pressure wash — popular among customers in this dusty city as it cleans the vehicle’s underbody — to conserve water. This service costs between Rs 650 and Rs 950.

When The Indian Express visited the store around 1 pm on June 3, a black Thar was leaving the store after a bucket wash, polishing and liquid wax cleaning. Next to it, a white Aveo’s interiors were being dry cleaned by a worker.

“Business has been hampered; yesterday, a customer grew angry because he needed a pressure wash. We gave him a discount to settle the situation,” said Maurya. He also offers customers liquid wax cleaning but this puts him at a marginal revenue loss of Rs 20 to Rs 25.

Amid the soaring temperatures and water shortage in the Capital, it is not just households that are bearing the brunt. Several in the car washing business are staring at a loss — of customers and income — owing to the crisis.

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Maurya said the heat has also affected his employees, slowing down work, which results in customers being unsatisfied.

At Car Wash Kalkaji, 1.5 km away, Neeraj Kumar was sitting inside his office, surrounded by over a dozen 20-litre water canisters which he buys according to the daily requirements. The 50-year-old said: “This year, the water scarcity is more severe than in previous years. Smart usage is what helps. I use a mix of pressure water and bucket water as per the need.”

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In South Delhi, Prakul, the owner of a small-scale automobile service centre lamented that he has to shut shop as early as 4 pm — there is simply not enough water to provide services. He said, “I cannot set up a steam wash since it is expensive. Neither do I have enough space to reuse the water…”

The situation has been particularly harsh for small-scale car washing centres.

Vinod Kumar opened a makeshift washing centre three months ago in Shastri Market, only to run into losses. In April, he was forced to lay off two employees before finally shutting shop.

He now makes a living by running a clothes shop on SN Road. He recalled, “I used to charge only Rs 50 for a bike wash and Rs 100 for a car wash but other shops charge upwards of Rs 450. I could not keep the business running when the water demand increased in the summer.”

Maurya of Shine Cars added that the business is challenging as there are many players in the pool.

Others have shortened working hours to be able to sustain the business.

In Chanakyapuri, an automobile shop is now open from 9 am to 3 pm, from its earlier timing of 8 am to 10 pm. The manager, who did not wish to be named, said, “Water tankers (private ones) only come once in 4-5 days. We try to promote our German self-washing facility which uses 3-4 litres of water per vehicle as opposed to 15-18 litres of water used in manual cleaning.”

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

First uploaded on: 08-06-2024 at 04:20 IST

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