Water tanker lorry owners have called off daylong strike but the residents associations are seething at the operators’ tactic of holding consumers to ransom to stop enforcement officials from hounding them.

The strike was called off after the government agreed to allow them to source water from treatment plants and other sources. It is learnt that samples might not be collected from tankers supplying water to construction sites. The decision was taken following talks convened here on Sunday by District Collector Sheikh Pareeth. There are allegations that a couple of treatment plants are sourcing highly polluted water from the Periyar and supplying it to tanker operators.

The apex body of residents associations in the district, EDRAAC, has denounced the “pressure tactics” adopted by operators whenever water safety and health officials are hot on their heels.

The apex body is working on ways to cut down dependence on private suppliers.

Its president Rangadasa Prabhu said the council was chalking out plans to encourage members of around 1,000 residents associations to install rainwater harvesting plants in households.

“This is to cut down on water supplied in tankers. People are often being ripped off by passing unfit water as drinking water,” he said.

He urged the district administration and health officials to stand up to the lorry operators, and assured them of the council’s support.

There is also a growing demand to set up desalination and treatment plants in areas facing water shortage since they will be less expensive than laying pipelines.

R. S. Satheeshkumar, Chief Food Safety Officer of Mobile Vigilance Squad in Ernakulam said the tankers were allowed to source water from various private treatment plants in the suburbs. But food safety officials would ensure that only quality water was supplied to houses and establishments, he said.

“We will continue to collect samples and test them. If a sample is found to be of inferior quality, the treatment plant will be shut. It will be allowed to open only after a transparent, joint inspection by a committee comprising our representatives, those from the District Medical Office and district administration,” he said.

Officials of the Motor Vehicles Department too are hacked off at the frequent threats of strike by lorry operators. “Even representatives of local bodies in whose areas tanker water is supplied pressure us to go slow against lorry owners,” said Ernakulam RTO B.J. Antony.

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