Disabled kids, elderly struggling for water in Chennai's Andhra Mahila Sabha

The Sabha, which houses a hospital, an old-age home, a polio care centre and children’s home, requires about 2,000 litres of water everyday

Published: 10th July 2019 06:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th July 2019 12:38 PM   |  A+A-

Andhra Mahila Sabha

With drought-like condition worsening, the Andhra Mahila Sabha is struggling to provide drinking water to the inmates as source continues to shrink | Martin Louis

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Over 300 people staying at the Andhra Mahila Sabha, including physically and intellectually disabled children, polio-affected women and elderly, are struggling without sufficient supply of water ever since the crisis began this summer. Their only source is a borewell in the campus.  

The Sabha, which houses a hospital, an old-age home, a polio care centre and children’s home, requires about 2,000 litres of water everyday - for cooking, drinking, bathing and cleaning - but gets less than half that quantity. Metro water tankers have also not been helpful as the supply is often erratic.For the first time in three decades, the open well on the campus, which supplied substantial amounts of freshwater to the inmates, has also gone dry. 

Among the worst hit are the 25 polio-affected women staying there, most of whom depend on wheelchairs for mobility. “Water from the open well helped us tide through droughts in the past,” says Suryakumari, warden of special schools. “We have 120 children living in the hostel. We need to provide them food, four times a day, and that requires lots of water. The supply from borewell is barely enough.” As the Sabha is run by a trust, they do not have sufficient funds to buy water from private suppliers. 

Insufficient funds add to water woes of Sabha

As Andhra Mahila Sabha is run by a trust they do not have sufficient funds to buy water from private tankers. Hence, the patients coming for treatment at the hospital and students are entirely dependent on Metro Water, which is unreliable at the moment. "As Metro Water tankers come once in 10 days and we are forced to provide borewell water through RO for drinking purposes too. This is not of great quality and is murky. Last week, a donor bought water and provided it for the children. This will last a week. Until we get the next Metro Water tanker supply, we need to manage with water from the borewell," said Madhumathi Achuthan, secretary of IPD orthopedic centre at Andhra Mahila Sabha. 

On the other hand, the hospital run by the Sabha is also reeling under shortage, but is able to manage with borewell water supply as there are less patients admitted currently. But as operation theatres, delivery wards, etc, use only Metro Water after autoclaving it, borewell water is of little help here. A nurse from the labour ward said, "The hospital cannot afford to buy disposables to use instead of water. To maintain hygiene of the patients and their surroundings, we cannot limit water usage too much."

The management is planning to dig another open well as attempts to dig more borewells, had gone in vain as they did not yield much water. Apart from patients, there are around 60 nurses undergoing training who stay at a hostel and 45 senior citizens staying at the old age home, who require round the clock water supply.  "There are only 23 beds which are occupied out of 166.

As there are fewer patients now, we are able to manage with even once in a while Metro Water supply. But even this takes a week or more. Water from five borewells are our saving grace. But we don't know for how much longer we can depend on this as the yield is decreasing," said R Nagarajan, hospital administrator.

Those who wish to donate to the special schools, can contact 7338884530.

Also See - Chennai water crisis: Overflowing tanks for some, pipe dreams for others

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