CHENNAI: Caught in the midst of the worst drought in years, it is proving to be a daily challenge to source a steady supply of water. However, spare a thought for those who live on the outskirts of Chennai where, ironically, borewells are sunk not for the requirement of locals, but to quench the thirst of city residents.
One such area on the outskirts, where locals face immense difficulty to find potable water, is Vaishnavi Nagar, near Avadi.
For many residents, the day starts as early as 5:30 am. That is the time when a queue is formed near 4th street, where the area’s only common borewell has been sunk. The situation is made worse by people from other areas fetching water from the same well, leading to frequent skirmishes.
According to Santhoshi, who resides on the 4th street, water drawn from that well is pure and is the only source for drinking and cooking purposes.
“I wake up around 5 am and head straight to the borewell. We are forced to go through the entire day with 5-6 buckets of water,” Santhoshi, a mother of two children, told Express.
Near the borewell, a row of vehicles, including bicycles, were parked to help transport the filled buckets.
While few made multiple trips, there were others who managed to balance as many buckets as they could.
The area has 10 streets and several other small bylanes, with a population of around 3500. There are quite a few individual houses with a few apartment complexes up and coming. There is no piped water-supply, forcing economically well-off residents to rely on water tankers rather than waiting at the borewell.
As it turned out, that borewell operates for two hours every morning, attracting not only the locals but also those from other areas. “Frequent and heated arguments often breakout, as there are a few who fill up water beyond what is deemed,” Jaisankar, an engineer, said.
As the secretary of the resident welfare association, P Thomas claims there was a proposal of installing hand pumps at the borewell, instead of taps, to keep a check on excess use. “We thought they would be deterred by the physical work. There were also demands to completely prohibit outsiders. But then, it is immoral to deny anyone something as basic as water,” he said.
After several representations over a period of three months, the association managed to get a sanction from the Avadi Municipality for another common borewell to be sunk near the 10th street.
“We thought this would enable all residents to get their fair share of water. But until now, no step has been taken in this regard,” Thomas rued. Until then, he opined, clashes between locals and others would be a common sight at Vaishnavi Nagar.