Officials collecting details to impose penalty
Illegal tapping of water supplied through underground pipes has always been a stealthy act but it is not so in Ezhumalai Town Panchayat near Usilampatti.
In the last few days, residents have dug up cement roads in front of their houses at their will to help themselves with illegal water connections. What started as an exercise to provide one or two public taps in each street ended up with around 200 connections given in some six wards of the town. Not only two underground PVC pipelines supplying ground water and Vaigai water were punched, people have also damaged cement roads at their will.
As this exercise continued unabated, the town council led by DMK chairperson, R. Chithra Pandian, recently passed a resolution to disconnect these water connections.
On Friday, the Assistant Director (Town Panchayat), S. Maruthupandian, mobilised 100 fitters, sweepers, led by Executive Officers from all nine town panchayats to disconnect them. Anticipating trouble, officials sought police protection.
The town panchayat had been supplying adequate water on alternate days to 18 wards with a population of around 17,000 people, Mr. Maruthupandian said. Besides supplying ground water with local sources on alternate days, Vaigai water was supplied once in five days under the Andipatti-Sedapatti Combined Drinking Water Scheme.
While 1,200 domestic water connections have been provided, the local body has provided 224 public taps on 108 streets.
Over and above, 37 plastic tanks have been installed in different wards. “All of them were under working condition. There are also 25 hand pumps,” the town Executive Officer, K. Kannan, said.
“Some 100 applications seeking domestic water connections were pending with us. We planned to give the connections soon. The councillors sought more public taps in their wards. Even as the issue was under discussion, people started digging roads to get connections,” he said. In one of the streets, residents laid pipe for 20 feet so that water could be got straight from the main pipeline.
The problem began with a few councillors belonging to the ruling party, Chairperson Chithra said. “As they encouraged the people of their wards to get water connections without any permission, residents of other wards also followed this practice. Water is a sensitive issue and none can control the residents as we will be seen as an enemy,” she said.
When the workers entered the streets in teams, they did not have any difficulty in identifying illegal connections. Those residents who have legal connections or public taps near their houses helped the officials in finding the illegal connections. For, they are affected with erratic water supply.
“Ever since these people started getting illegal connections, we are not getting adequate water,” one of the women said.
Some people who tried in vain preventing the officials from disconnecting their illegal water connection cautioned the officials that they should not spare even one of the illegal connections. After snapping the connections, the workers took away pipes used for illegal connections. The officials were collecting details of the residents to impose penalty on them.