Archaic laws are being blamed for the miserly distribution of drinking water to hundreds of residents perched on high-rises in the city.
Going by the rule book, the Kerala Water Authority can grant only two water connections (one commercial and one domestic) to an apartment complex, no matter how many residential units are set up there. The water authority is the sole government agency in the State tasked with supplying piped drinking water.
With piped water supply thinning out, residents living in apartments are forced to dial up alternative drinking water suppliers. But private players too are facing the heat because there has been a spike in resistance against tankers drawing water from public water sources, which are fast bottoming out in baking-hot summer. To top it, there are complaints of poor quality of water being supplied by some private suppliers.
P.G. Rajasekharan, Superintending Engineer (Kochi Circle) of the water authority, said the existing rules have fixed the size of pipes for providing drinking water supply connection to an apartment complex at 20mm diameter. Most of the flats take one residential connection and another commercial connection in the name of an office functioning out of the building. Law prohibits the authority from providing more than two connections to an apartment complex, he said.
For a non-domestic connection, the authority charges double the rate fixed for domestic consumers. While the authority sells 15 kilolitres for Rs. 67 to a domestic consumer, it collects Rs. 129 for 12.5 kilolitres from a non-domestic consumer.
If the size of the water pipe laid to an apartment block is dilated any further, it may squeeze the neighbouring areas out of water, leading to protests.
According to the water authority, on an average, a person in the city uses between 150 and 200 litres of water daily. But Kochi gets only 250 million litres a day (MLD) from the Aluva pump house against its demand of 400 MLD.
The water supply scenario may look up when the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission-supported drinking water project for the western parts of the city is completed.
When the project rolls out, water now supplied to the area could be diverted to other parts of the city, Mr. Rajasekharan said.
There are no provisions in law for providing individual connections to all the dwelling units in apartments.