Tamil Nadu govt mulls tanker trains to address Chennai’s water shortage
The Tamil Nadu government is mulling deploying tanker trains to bring water from other districts of the state to address Chennai’s water crisis that has left its residents parched and furious.
“We are considering to bring water on the trains from other parts of the state to Chennai if things deteriorate further,” Local Administration Minister SP Velumani told reporters on Wednesday. He did not elaborate whether they had already talked to railways to implement this.
Amid soaring heat and a deficient monsoon, Chennai is experiencing the worst water scarcity this year. Residents are waiting in queues to tap water from private water tankers.
Chennai city needs 800 MLD of water per day. However, the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) says that it is able to supply only around 500 MLD per day.
According to senior minister D Jayakumar, deficient rainfall has exacerbated the water scarcity.
“Though there is 40% deficiency in rainfall, the government is making best efforts to tackle the situation. We are fetching water from farmlands and quarries and supplying at places where people are facing water scarcity,” the minister said.
But resident allege that water tankers do not reach on time and even the supply is inadequate.
“We are coming out by 4 am in the morning with pots and returning by 3 pm. Only 10 pots are allowed for a family for a day. However, it is hard to fetch 10 pots of water as the number of people who are waiting for water is very high,” said a K Vijaya, a resident of Anakaputhur.
Across Koyambedu, Choolaimedu and Nungambakkam in the heart of Chennai, residents walk with pots in search of hand pumps and water tankers.
Schools, IT firms, and small hotels have been badly affected by water scarcity. Three private schools in Kanchipuram and Chennai’s Purasaiwalkam have announced holidays.
Residents say private water tankers have doubled the charges now.
“Usually, the water tanker lorries collect Rs.3,000 for 12,000 litres. However, it has risen to Rs.6,500,” said V Ragumanikam, a resident from Choolaimedu.
Residents also allege that booking metro (government) water lorries are no longer a solution to get water.
“We booked for metro drinking water tanker on Sunday. However, the tanker has yet arrived,” V Srinivasan, a resident of Nungambakkam.
Along Rajiv Gandhi Road - the IT corridor of Chennai, many firms have asked employees to work from home.
“If there are two restrooms, the companies have closed one. They are not allowing us to wash our lunch boxes,” said K Bharani, an IT employee who did not want her company to be identified as she is not authorised to speak to media.
Tamil Nadu hoteliers association office bearers met CM Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday and discussed the strategies to address the water shortage.
The Madras High Court also pulled up the state government on Tuesday for not taking any precautionary steps to avert the water problem. It has also sought a report from the state government on the current status Chennai’s water reservoirs.
Poondi, Cholavaram, Red Hills and Chembaramkkam are Chennai’s major water reservoirs. While all these four had 2,501 mcft of water on June 19 last year, this year the total water level has fallen to just 24 mcft on Wednesday.
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