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Water scarcity hits Chennai ‘mansions’

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByM Manikandan
Jun 21, 2019 12:10 AM IST

As per the Central Water Commission, Tamil Nadu has recorded a -41% departure from normal storage in its reservoirs this year as on June 13.

With the water crisis in Chennai reaching critical levels — its four main reservoirs were at barely 0.2 % of their full capacity as of Thursday — some of the worst affected are those who are unable to buy water from private tankers. This includes the lodgers in Triplicane, an area in the heart of the city known for its profusion of lodges that rent rooms on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, at very economic rates. Locally, these lodges are known as mansions. But even these havens are turning away lodgers due to the water crisis.

This June 15, 2019, Copernicus Sentinel-2 Satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows Chembarambakkam Lake in Chennai, India during the drought. Millions of people are turning to water tank trucks in Tamil Nadu as house and hotel taps run dry because of an acute water shortage caused by drying lakes and depleted groundwater.(AP)
This June 15, 2019, Copernicus Sentinel-2 Satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows Chembarambakkam Lake in Chennai, India during the drought. Millions of people are turning to water tank trucks in Tamil Nadu as house and hotel taps run dry because of an acute water shortage caused by drying lakes and depleted groundwater.(AP)

Hindustan Times visited 20 lodges on Thursday — the area roughly houses 250 of them — and all the owners that HT spoke with said that they are unable to take on long-term tenants anymore due to the severe water shortage. What’s more, several of them have started turning away lodgers, some have asked as many as half their lodgers to vacate the premises, and thus face a serious loss of business.

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The lodges attract migrants, job-seekers and students as the flexibility of stay ranges from a few days to years, and the rent starts at Rs 70 a day.

As per the Central Water Commission, Tamil Nadu has recorded a -41% departure from normal storage in its reservoirs this year as on June 13. Normal storage refers to the average storage of last decade. What this means is that the state, on the whole, has 41% lesser water than its average taken over the past 10 years. S Abdul Rahman, who owns a lodge in Ellis Road, said that the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board (CMWSSB) has supplied lesser than usual water that has exacerbated the problem for his lodgers. “We have 26 rooms in our building. Usually, the CWSSB supplies 12,000 litres of water per day, and we used bore wells.

However, the water supply has been erratic now. Since the groundwater levels have also fallen, our borewells are not functioning. So, we are requesting our guests to vacate their rooms,” said Rahman, adding that more than 60 per cent of his lodgers have been asked to move out.

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