Water tanker lorries are the main lifeline in many of Kochi’s villages

The city may well take pride in her title as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. But the Queen’s subjects are often left anxiously waiting for non-descript water tankers arranged by the authorities to roll in to their neighbourhoods to quench their thirst. Whether or not the tankers supply quality water or comply with hygiene and sanitation parameters, statistics explain why it may be necessary to include them in the list of essential services.

Tanker lorries supplied 12.78 crore litres of drinking water in panchayats spread over seven taluks in the district at a cost of about Rs. 2.04 crore during a three-month period, including the peak summer months of March and April, this year.

That the figures are far from conclusive tells a tale of immense hardship behind the sight of women waiting with many pots for the water tankers..

In the more urban-centric Kanayannur taluk, water tankers have supplied 4.62 crore litres of drinking water at a cost of Rs. 51.07 lakh. Chottanikkara was the biggest beneficiary among the villages receiving 77.04 lakh litres at a cost of Rs. 8.88 lakh.

Muvattupuzha taluk received 2.87 crore litres of water from tankers at a cost of Rs. 38.25 lakh. With 27.10 lakh litres, Koothattukulam received the greatest volume among the villages.

Water tankers distributed 2.68 crore litres of water in Kothamangalam taluk for Rs. 35.34 lakh.

Of the villages, Kottappady received 41.40 lakh litres for which the tankers will have to be paid Rs. 5.17 lakh.

While Kochi taluk has 15 villages, drinking water supply by water tankers is carried out in mainly four of them – Kumbalanghi, Chellanam, Elanji, and Njarakkal. Besides, Vypeen and Kadamakkudy villages are served by water tankers round the year under a special scheme. These villages have received 1.12 crore litres of water at a cost of Rs. 16.46 lakh while Chellanam received 60.60 lakh litres of water at a cost of Rs. 8.20 lakh.

Five out of the 13 villages in Paravur taluk received 1.02 crore litres of water supplied by tankers at a cost of Rs. 16.39 lakh.

Varapuzha village received 37.52 lakh litres at a cost of Rs. 7.38 lakh.

In Kunnathunadu taluk, water tankers supplied 46.45 lakh litres at a cost of Rs. 23.80 lakh. Kunnathunadu village received more than a third of the supply at 9.15 lakh litres. Aluva taluk does not have statistics of the exact volume of water supplied in its villages, but the cost comes to around Rs. 17 lakh. Ayyampuzha panchayat received the greatest volume, but then again the exact figure is not available.

The figures are not complete in some taluks as contractors are yet to present the trip sheets of their water tankers operated. For instance, in four villages served by water tankers in Kochi taluk, details of Njarakkal village is not yet available, while data for the month of March alone is available for Chellanam village. So is the case of Aluva taluk. Water was supplied in Varapuzha in Paravur taluk for a period of eight months.

Tankers of varying capacity operate two to four trips a day for supplying water in their areas. While the big tankers have the capacity to carry between 10,000 litres and 12,000 litres, those of mini lorries vary between 4,000 litres and 5,000 litres.

Tankers are deployed in places with wider roads, whereas mini lorries are the option in places with narrow pathways.

The rate per trip vary for tankers and mini lorries depending on accessibility and road conditions. Tankers charge between Rs. 1,100 and Rs. 1,250 whereas it’s between Rs.650 and Rs.800 for mini lorries.

For instance, only mini lorries could be operated in Mulavukad village owing to its narrow and potholed road and contractors charge Rs. 800 per trip.

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