Water woes spark fights in Perumbakkam slums

An official in the Slum Clearance Board confirmed to Express that there is a shortage of water.
For representational purposes (File Photo)
For representational purposes (File Photo)

CHENNAI: Every time residents of Perumbakkam slum tenements walk past advisory posters urging them to keep toilets clean by flushing before and after use, they are reminded of the ordeals they undergo every day due to water scarcity.

About 18,000 families residing in the slum resettlement have been forced to fend for themselves with just around four MLD (million litres per day) of water, out of the promised five, against the actual requirement of seven MLD. The effect? Chronic hostility between residents, resulting in verbal duels and fisticuffs. 

An official in the Slum Clearance Board confirmed to Express that there is a shortage of water. A top official in Metro Water said that based on instructions from Chief Secretary K Shanmugam, an extra 2 MLD of water will soon be released. The official emphasised it would be a permanent measure, as Chennai now has surplus water.

Officials said Metro Water supplies five MLD of water from Nemmeli desalination plant to the Tsunami resettlement in Semmencherry and Perumbakkam slum tenements, though the latter does not fall under its ambit. Federation of Residents Associations president K Nallathambi said that of the five MLD, about one goes to the Tsunami resettlement and the rest goes to the Perumbakkam tenements.

The north side (new block) of Perumbakkam settlement has nine smaller sumps (each with a capacity of five lakh litres) that require 4 MLD of water for 13,000 families daily. From the smaller sumps, the Slum Board motors pump water to roof-top tanks, each having a capacity of 500 litres, and shared by two houses of a block. On the other hand, the south side (old block) has two sumps with a capacity of 2 lakh litres each, and seven other sumps with a capacity of 1.5 lakh litres each.

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The New Indian Express