For the residents of Somayampalayam, a village panchayat on the city’s western border, drinking water is far more precious than gold. Water would not come even for a high price, because there is not much to supply.

Apart from battling a growing garbage menace, the residents are grappling with the water situation that is worsening by the day. They say drinking water is supplied only once in 20 or 25 days. People are kept on tenterhooks by the local body as one never knows when exactly water will be supplied.

Panchayat President A. Ramalingam says the local body is hamstrung by a meagre allocation of 90,000 litres a day. “This allocation under the Pilloor scheme was made in 1995-96 when the population in Somayampalayam was around 6,000. Now, the population is 16,000, but the quantity of water remains the same,” he says.

Mr. Ramalingam says the local body had been able to supply water once in 15 days despite the shortage. But, frequent disruption in power supply affected water supply and stretched to once in 25 days.

“But, we want more water. We have appealed to Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and Thondamuthur MLA M.N. Kandaswamy. Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board officials explain that they are in no position to step up supply till an alternative scheme is implemented,” says the Panchayat President.

Authorities of Sri Sathya Sai Vidhya Niketan Matriculation Higher Secondary School say they ask all the 500 students to bring water in two bottles from home, because the school does not have enough supply of Siruvani water.

It tries to fetch water from nearby village or town panchayats or buy water in cans.

“We have brought this problem to the notice of the panchayat, but the local body is also helpless as very little drinking water is allocated to it,” says Correspondent of the school C.N. Krishnan.

K. Ramaswamy, a resident, says Somayampalayam should be included in the Bhavani scheme for Vadavalli and Kavundampalayam to solve the water shortage.

Somayampalayam is only a couple of streets away from Vadavalli Town Panchayat where the supply is once in four or five days. But this village panchayat is going through the worst phase yet. “This panchayat is so close to Vadavalli and Kavundampalayam that it cannot be ignored,” says Mr. Ramaswamy, alluding to the Bhavani scheme that is under implementation.

Garbage

Somayampalayam’s predicament is typical of a growing suburb. After Veerakeralam and Vadavalli, this panchayat seems to be the housing destination of the middle income group. But, the pace of providing amenities does not match that of the growth in population, the residents point out.

In the absence of a scheme for solid waste management, garbage is dumped in the open and sometimes even set ablaze.

Mr. Krishnan points at a garbage dump near his school and says: “People dump garbage here and set it ablaze. The smoke enters the classrooms and inconveniences the students. Often, we have to put out the fire.”

He also points at a board that directs people to dump garbage in a pit close to the school.

It is sad that such conditions persist near a school.

Mr. Ramaswamy laments that storm water drains are not cleaned and this leads to stagnation of waste water.

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