HYDERABAD: At 340 MGD or 1555 million litres of water a day, up from the 300 MGD available until two years ago, surely the available water at the disposal of Hyderabad has gone up. But so has the population and number of residential projects dotting the city. Any wonder then, that fears of an impending water crisis loom large over Hyderabad. The signs of an early summer have only worsened the fears. Statistics released by the groundwater department too have not helped, with figures showing a sharp decline of 5.20 - 9.10 per cent in depth of groundwater level from Nampally to Marredpally in January.
But all said and done, the demand for tankers, the next best choice for meeting urban water demands, is yet to shoot up considerably in the twin cities, claim officials of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB), the nodal agency responsible for water distribution in the city and under whose control come the 630-odd tankers operating in the city. “The tankers usually undertake 4-5 trips a day. During summers, especially from April onwards, the frequency increases to eight. But as of now, in the month of February, there has been hardly much difference in trip frequency (from 4-5), to prove that water scarcity has indeed hit the city,” said Sathyavardhan, an officer with the HMWSSB.
“There are 60 filling stations in Hyderabad, and Erragadda and Banjara Hills seek maximum water during summers. At least, 400 daily trips are made to these places during the usual summer months which starts from April. But this February, we haven’t noticed much increase in demand, akin to the demand yet to come. The frequency of trips to these places is nowhere near the maximum frequency, and continues to hover around the usual numbers experienced in December/January,” added another official with the board. A major private tanker agency operating from Secunderabad also shrugged off water scarcity doubts, claiming that demand wasn’t as high as February last year, despite the region facing groundwater depletion. “There’s no increased demand. People are managing somehow with the existing water resources. Media reports suggesting otherwise must surely be exaggerating. People are noticing the tankers on road now only because it’s summer,” said the owner of the agency, not wanting to be named.
But even as officials and a few tanker agencies point out no alarming rise in demand, residents of colonies on the city’s outskirts, especially from regions like Miyapur, Bowenpally and Mehdipatnam, think otherwise. “One tanker of 5,000 litres capacity costs `400 presently. Apart from corporation water, we also order for tankers 3-4 times a week, which is definitely eating into our financial resources,” said B Prasad, a resident near Allwyn Cross Roads
S Raghu, president of the 5,000-strong Dattathreya Colony, near Mehdipatnam couldn’t agree more, “We have been forced to order for 3-4 tankers a week, instead of the usual weekly once. Last year our demand increased only during early April, unlike this year when it started in early February itself. A few of the apartments in our colony have drilled new borewells, but for most others the dependency on tankers has increased,” he rued.
“Wonder how the authorities are claiming no increase in tanker demands, as of now,” questioned Raghu, who was also asked to make three months of advance payment to a tanker agency, a clause which has taken residents of his apartment by surprise. “The private agencies know water is scarce and so they are pre-billing us. Maybe, water is not yet scarce, but they are surely playing on our fears,” he added.