THRISSUR: Malayalis may well be the hardest drinking community in the country, but for at least some, everyday drinking water laced with alcohol is still hard to digest.
In Chalakudy, which has been right at the forefront in state in terms of its drinking habits, 18 families have complained that the water from the open well in their area has been smelling and tasting like liquor since Sunday.
The bizarre phenomenon came to light when Joshy Maliyekkal, the owner of an apartment complex near Chalakudy bus stand, switched on the motor to fill the water tank at his house on Sunday afternoon.
“All of a sudden, the pipe started to smell very bad. We were suspicious as to why such a smell was coming from the water drawn from an open well,” he said.
According to Joshy, the area residents have been using the well for several years and this had never happened before.
“Upon discussing with the neighbours, we found that an excise official and a bar owner had dug up a pit in the compound of a bar nearby, in which they had dumped liquor. Though they dug the pit in the adjacent compound, it was in close proximity to our well,” said Joshy.
The residents thus approached the Chalakudy municipality, following which health officials examined the water.
“The inspection proved the presence of alcohol in the water, and hence we called the excise officials and informed them of the matter,” said V G Joji, ward councillor.
As the protest from the part of residents became intense, the excise officials agreed to resolve the situation. According to Deputy Excise Commissioner T K Sanu, the department has already started the purification of the water in the well.
“We will lend all support to the families affected,” he said.
The official added that carelessness from the part of the officers concerned had led to the situation.
“If we have to dump a huge quantity of liquor, we generally resort to options like distilleries. But here, it was just 2,000 bottles, so they decided to dispose it of by digging a pit. As per the official orders, while disposing it, the officer should take care not to cause any harm to the environment and the public. But they were unaware of the presence of an open well nearby, which is why this happened,” he said.
The bar owner has now arrived at a compromise with the residents, in the presence of the municipality officials.
Until the water from the well becomes normal and usable, he will pay the bills for the supply of water to 18 families in the region.