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Updated: March 12, 2014 12:20 IST

Surrounded by water, but not a drop to drink

Shyama Rajagopal
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Kadamakudy, Elamkunnapuzha, Njarackkal, Chellanam and Kumbalanghi are
among the places that are parched right from the onset of summer. Commissioning of the Maradu water supply augmentation project remains the
only hope for the people. File Photo
The Hindu Kadamakudy, Elamkunnapuzha, Njarackkal, Chellanam and Kumbalanghi are among the places that are parched right from the onset of summer. Commissioning of the Maradu water supply augmentation project remains the only hope for the people. File Photo

Acute water shortage grips islands in Kochi after water tankers pause supply demanding pending dues

With water tanker operators refusing to operate from Tuesday demanding settling of dues pending over one and a half years, Kadamakudy, Vypeen and nearby islands have been severely hit. Local residents are largely dependent on water supplied through tanker lorries to meet their requirements.

Commissioning of the Maradu water supply augmentation project remains the only hope for the people in these areas where the water pipes tend to dry up as summer begins.

Kadamakudy, Elamkunnapuzha, Njarackkal, Chellanam and Kumbalanghi are among the places that are parched right from the onset of summer. Pipes are either dry because of shortage of water or because of constant bursts and leaks in pipelines.

“Only some houses in certain wards get water every alternate day when the authorities pump water for two hours,” said Valsa Francis, the president of Kadamakudy panchayat. The Valia Kadamakudy island used to get a tanker daily while other islands like Pizhala, Chennur and other areas get water through barge. “Today there was no water at all,” said one of the ward councillors from Valia Kadamakudy.

All the members of the panchayat were at the Kerala Water Authority office on Tuesday to find a solution to their water woes.

Beatrice Joseph, the president of the Elamkunnapuzha grama panchayat, said it was decided that only the ward facing acute shortage would be provided with water. Last week, members of wards facing acute water shortage sat on dharna at the KWA office. As a result some of the pipes got repaired, she said. Roads in some of the wards were not wide enough to accommodate big water tankers. Only mini tankers supplied water every alternate day, she said.

Chellanam panchayat president K.C. Thankachan told The Hindu that the panchayat had bought a pump set worth Rs. 50,000 to help the Water Authority pump water with more force so that it reaches the fag end of residents in Kannamaly area.

The Maradu project under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission which will pump out 100 million litres of water a day will bring supply to many of these places. But the project is struggling to meet its deadline of March 15. A major pump set that will draw untreated water from the intake well at Piravom is yet to be ready.

There is much pressure to commission the plant soon. Pipe-laying works are still to be completed in Chellanam and Panangad. While it may take some more days to complete the works in Panangad, about 2 km is yet to be laid at Chellanam and will take at least a full month. A senior official at KWA told The Hindu that once the main pump was fixed, the plant could provide water to Maradu, Kumbalam, Kumbalanghi and Chellanam areas through the existing pipelines and augment water supply to the city by pumping more water to Thammanam pump house.

The extra water from Maradu can slake the thirst of Vypeen and other islands. At present the Water Authority is struggling to meet the islanders demand from the total supply of 250 million litres a day for the city from Aluva.

The Superintending Engineer (production and distribution), Jolly Thomas, said the Rs. 54-crore GIDA project for water pumping, storage and distribution, which is 98 per cent complete, would provide better supply to Elamkunnapuzha, Njarakkal and Nayarambalam panchayats.

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