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Water wars begin

Come summer, with water becoming scarce, Chennai becomes parched.  This year this has happened much earlier. The city is already facing a huge water shortage. Several areas have become entirely dependent on water tankers, that source water illegally from agricultural wells in the outskirts of the city. The Kancheepuram administration recently seized five lorries for illegally drawing water. When the South Chennai Private Water Lorry Owners Association, which has some 1200 tankers with it, went on a strike against this, the entire OMR came to a standstill. Several high-rises, office spaces and upcoming buildings are entirely dependent on water tankers for their daily need. And this strike has already given us a foreboding of the summer months.

Four reservoirs meet Chennai’s water requirements  - Poondi, Red Hills, Cholavaram and Chembarambakkam.  They currently hold just 1.7 tmcft against eight tmcft last year. The city requires 1100 million litres of water a day (MLD), but supply has now dropped to 550MLD. This is alarming. The cost of water cans has shot up burning a hole in the resident’s pocket.

Though the state once topped in implementing rainwater harvesting, the systems have been poorly maintained failing to replenish ground water. It is time to come up with innovative methods to save water.

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