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How Chennai is surviving water scarcity

By A GANESH NADAR
June 21, 2019 15:14 IST

'We buy water.'

IMAGE: Residents fill their vessels with potable water from a hand pump at Marina beach in Chennai, June 20, 2019. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo

The newspapers and television channels have declared that Chennai faces a severe water crisis. Tamil Nadu's chief minister denies there is such a crisis and says it is a media creation.

The truth is there is a severe water shortage in the city, but there is no exodus from Chennai, as some fear.

So how are Chennai residents coping with the water shortage?

A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com speaks to some Chennai residents to find out how they are coping with the water crisis.

"We have a borewell that gives us salt water, which we use in the bathroom and toilet. Metro water (potable water provided by the municipality) comes on alternate days, but it is not enough," says M Maheshwari, who lives in Neelangarai in southern Chennai.

"Even when it comes, you can use it for cooking on some days and some days you cannot. I buy can water."

"I am lucky like those who live by the sea on East Coast Road, the others got metro water once in 3 days last month, now they get it once a week," she adds.

 

Thiruvanmiyur resident A Raghupathy Ammal cannot recall when metro water last appeared at her home.

"We are surviving on a 200 feet borewell. The water is so bad that my aqua purifier collapsed as the water has gone from bad to worse. We drink and cook with can water."

"We buy 9,000 litres of water for Rs 750. This is shared by 20 families in two buildings, it lasts 3 days," says Thiruvalluvar Nagar resident S Jaya.

"We also have salty borewell water. Our vessels are rusty with the salt content. Some of us have water purifiers while others buy cans. The price varies according to demand, from Rs 30 to Rs 45. Metro water comes randomly and even when it comes it fills up only half our tank," Jaya adds.

"There is a municipal tap on the road, water comes for half an hour in the morning," says N Revathy, who lives in Mudichur, near Tambaram, south Chennai. "Earlier I used to run and stand in line. I have never got water, it always stops before my turn and so now I don't go there at all."

"I survive on borewell water, and for cooking and drinking it is can water," Revathy adds.

"I have more than a thousand workers. Metro water pipes are there, but I have never seen water in them since the scarcity started," says a large retailer who did not want to be named for this report.

"I have a regular supplier who supplies water. The water is treated and then used for cooking and drinking. The toilets and bathrooms get untreated water. We will manage till the rains come."

T T V Dinakaran is the only MLA doing anything about the water crisis. He has hired 15 water tankers to supply water in his constituency, for free.

A GANESH NADAR / Rediff.com in Chennai
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