Piping a broken dream 

Evicted families from the banks of Cooum River face acute water crisis due to defunct harvesting systems; several litres of potable water go waste

Published: 05th October 2019 06:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th October 2019 06:01 AM   |  A+A-

It costs Rs 300 to Rs 400 per day to get potable water and for other purposes  P Jawahar 

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The terrace of blocks 100 to 106 at the Perumbakkam resettlement colony is filled with water that has been outflowing from the broken PVC pipes. This water then trickles down the defunct rainwater harvesting (RWH) pipes, ends up on the road and goes to waste. On October 1, Express had reported that relocating the 650 families from the banks of Cooum River in Chennai to tenements of the Perumbakkam resettlement colony has deprived them of their livelihoods.

Adding to their woes, the lack of water supply has also hit the residents hard. While reeling under such a dire situation, an abundance of potable water let into the drain from the overhead tanks due to broken pipes has touched a sore spot for the residents.

The residents alleged that the newly built pipes could have been broken by miscreants from the nearby blocks. “The buildings here were built many months ago. Since the terrace is open, youngsters use it for delinquent activities,” said S Viji, a resident of Perumbakkam. When Express visited the spot, some youngsters were spotted meddling with the tanks and pipes. “There is no lock for the terrace and people from other blocks come in groups to use it in the night,” she said.

Though it has been over a week since people were evicted from Chindradripet and Aminjikarai, residents are still deprived of civic amenities. Out of desperation, children were seen filling water from the broken RWH pipes. Since no elevator service is available, they had to carry the waterpots up to the eighth floor and make multiple trips. Some residents even travel to faraway blocks to fetch water. In some houses, water supply has been provided but the pipes are left open without taps. 

The residents require an enormous amount of water to clean the floor of their houses which are still caked with hard cement plaques and sand-filled toilet basins. The case with broken water pipes is prevalent in other unoccupied slum tenement buildings too. The residents said that the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) provides all civic amenities but does not do enough to maintain them.

Officials of the TNSCB said that the broken pipes may not just be due to miscreants but also because it was left unused for months. “There needs to be more patrolling but since there is a sudden pressure on the pipes, it can break,” said the official, adding that repair works were taking place as and when people were allotted houses, and that repairs will continue. 

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