CHENNAI: Government officials too are feeling the pinch of water scarcity, as the Madurai Corporation has decided to make water tariff applicable across the board, irrespective of who the consumer is. Blame it on successive monsoon failures, unscrupulous exploitation of groundwater and gross mismanagement.
Over two lakh bore wells, including 3,000 bore wells of the Corporation operate in and around the city, extracting groundwater at an alarming rate. The Corporation intends to sink two borewells in each of the newly added wards at a cost of `1.9 crore. The civic body has as of now sunk 430 bore wells (target is 500 borewells), and it has also signed agreements with private bore well owners. Apart from this, they have installed 267 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) tanks on streets in various locations at a cost of `80 lakh.
The acute water scarcity has also led to rise of private water suppliers — 110 private tanker lorries and 150 vans now supply six or seven loads on a daily basis in almost all areas. A tanker lorry load of 12,000 litres of water costs around `800 and a pot of water costs `3. Moreover, a pot of mineral water costs around `13 per pot whereas the 20-litre packaged drinking water costs around `30.
The city, which has 100 wards, including the 28 newly annexed wards, requires 115 MLD but it has been getting only about 80 MLD through two pipeline projects from the Vaigai dam. As a result, residents get piped water supply once in four days.
The Corporation has sent a proposal to the government to allocate 800 MCFT directly from the Mullaiperiyar dam. If and when approved, the project would be functional within two years.
Another challenge is transmitting and distributing water, during which almost 10 MLD is being wasted due to leakage.
Mayor V V Rajan Chellappa said the Corporation was taking various steps to curb scarcity. He intends raise the frequency of water supply to alternate days, since the water level in the Vaigai is gradually going up.