CHENNAI: Apartment complexes and commercial establishments across the city can breathe a sigh of relief as private tanker operators have temporarily called off their strike that was to begin on May 27. But, prospects of the tankers going off the roads again is likely.
Association members said their decision to call off the strike maybe only temporary if the government does not provide a long-term solution. They will be meeting Municipal Administration and Water supply minister, SP Velumani, and Metro Water officials on Monday regarding the matter.
Half of the city’s population which is dependent on private tankers for providing water had started to feel the pinch a day after their decision to go on strike was announced. Close to 4,500 private water tankers previously decided to stop plying from Monday to protest the government’s crackdown on tankers for tapping groundwater from villages in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.
“The main reason we decided to drop the strike was because of the residents’ plight. People who get water from Metro Water too order two-three tankers from us. Many were frantically calling to get minimum number of tanker loads on Thursday night itself. But, this time we expect a permanent solution from the authorities,” said Nijalingam N, president of South Chennai Private Water Tanker Association.
Also, as agriculture fields in Tiruvallur district and bore wells in villages in Kancheepuram, which are the primary sources of water for private tankers, have dried up, there will be 25-30 per cent dip in number of tankers plying in the city.
“We have already stopped drawing water from our previous localities and moved into interiors of neighbouring district to supply water to the city. Groundwater levels in villages in Tiruvallur district have dropped by 10ft in two weeks already. Around 1500 tankers will not be plying because of this,” said another association member.
On Friday and Saturday, roads of OMR and ECR which will usually be bustling with tankers, had only a handful of the vehicles plying as a considerable number of tankers had stopped operating due to lack of water, residents said.