Chennai: Booked, but rejected 

Metro Water’s website denies requests made for tankers from same apartments, irks residents.
Photo for representation
Photo for representation

CHENNAI : Our reservoirs are running dangerously low and groundwater resources have dipped to almost nil in most parts of the city. Thousands of residents are dependent on the Metro Water tanker lorries. Making things worse, the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) has been cancelling online water tanker requests, if placed more than once from the same address, thereby putting the residents of apartments with multiple blocks in a fix.

“Online booking for water tanker made under the ‘dial for water’ scheme of CMWSSB by numerous residents of T Nagar were cancelled unilaterally by the board on the plea that multiple bookings were made from the same apartments — meaning more than one booking was made by the members residing in the complex. So, whoever makes a booking first gets water and the other blocks are left thirsty,” said VS Jayaraman, president of T Nagar Resident Welfare Association.

This is the plight of residents in other parts of Chennai too. Despite paying a water tax of Rs 80 per month, residents are being denied water only because they live in the same complex and another resident places a request prior to them from the same address.

Jayaraman said that the board provides only one water connection to apartments comprising multiple flats, but collects water charges individually from each flat owner. When the board can justify its stand of collecting multiple water charges from each and every member in a residential complex even when it provides only one water connection to the entire complex, what is wrong in residents of a complex making multiple bookings?, he asked. The residents are equally justified and it is well within their right to make multiple bookings and the board is duty-bound to arrange supplies.   

P Latha Kumari from Kodambakkam, said they are awaiting a tanker lorry for three weeks now. “They cancelled my request thrice citing multiple requests were made from the same address. After they cancel the request, if the same apartment they initially provided water to books again before others, workers supply water to that block. This glitch should be addressed because in the upcoming months, the water supply will be worse,” she said. 

Residents of the apartments and gated communities say they are forced to book private tanker lorries that charge exorbitant prices for water. “Despite having a facility to avail water at a lower cost, we are not able to utilise it. Under no circumstances should the board resort to cancellation of the order as that would amount to questioning its own stand of collecting multiple charges from individual members of a complex with only one water connection. The least they can do is postpone the supply,” said R Ramachandran, a resident of Madipakkam.

When contacted, a senior official from CMWSSB said, “If we give water only to apartments, the owners of individual houses will protest. We understand supplying water to everyone in need is important and we are currently looking for solutions to sort this issue.” 

Supply-demand woes

  • 654 metro tankers, 225 are of 6,000-litre capacity and others have capacity of 9,000-litre. 
  • Booking can be made on the CMWSSB’s website between 6 am and 6 pm. 
  • While it costs Rs 475 for a 6,000-litre lorry, it costs Rs 700 for 9,000-litre lorry. 
  • Metro Water is currently supplying 550 mld (million litres a day) to the city instead of the stipulated 850 mld. 

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The New Indian Express