But take heart that Corporation authorities are taking all-out efforts to tackle the alarming situation
A scorching summer is round the corner, and a water crisis as well. For, Madurai’s water sources are drying up fast and the low level in the Vaigai dam serves as a warning signal. On January 1 and 24 last year it was 51.08 feet and 50.13 feet respectively. The level on January 1 this year was 41.27 feet. It has come down further to 35.70 feet on January 24.
To tackle the situation, the Madurai Municipal Corporation has worked out a plan for March, April and May. The city requires 130 Million Litres per Day (MLD) on an average for the people residing in the 100 wards, and the requirement is met mostly through Vaigai’s surface water.
On January 23, Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa, Corporation Commissioner Kiran Gurrala and City Engineer A. Mathuram had a meeting with engineers and water supply officials. They instructed the officials that preparations should begin immediately for meeting the water demand during summer.
The reasons for the water crisis are attributed to poor rainfall and precarious groundwater level. Mr. Mathuram says the Corporation has started identifying private wells outside the city to draw water. “We’ve worked out a Rs.25-crore proposal to tackle the water crisis in summer,” he says.
There are 1,850 borewells in the city limits from which 10 MLD are pumped in a day. There are 34 irrigation wells in suburban areas from where the Corporation draws about 11 MLD.
The Corporation plans to sink 500 borewells in the suburban areas to get 5 MLD. “We hope to manage the situation this summer but the cooperation of the public is vital. The Corporation will be able to supply water only on alternate days,” Mr. Mathuram says.
However, water conservation activist and president of Vandiyur Tank Water Development Association M. Sheik Dawood is critical of the civic body’s approach in not involving resident associations and activists. “The Corporation should consult us and hear out our ideas also because ultimately the message goes to residential areas only through us. I am afraid people will come to roads and stage protests this summer also,” he fears. Appealing to the city residents to save every drop of water, Mr. Dawood says even if people are ready to pay money for getting water, there are no sources available to draw water. “It is going to be a desperate situation and the way we have conducted the recent float festival at Teppakulam is an indicator of things to come,” he cautions.
Corporation officials say steps will be taken to fetch water through tankers from suburban areas such as Karuppayoorani, Maadakulam and Kadachanendal.
Areas which are expected to be worst-hit this summer include Melamadai, Gomathipuran, Vandiyur, DRO Colony, K. Pudur, Anna Nagar, K.K. Nagar and Naganakulam.
A senior engineer said, “No new water connections will be given for the time being and illegal water connections will be snapped. The situation is so bad in Madurai that the State government has called our Collector for a meeting in Chennai on Monday to discuss the water scenario.”
Environment care expert S. Rajamohan says it is high time the corporation stepped up its campaign for rainwater harvesting in Madurai.
“We need to do a lot to conserve water and there is no point in waking up only before summer. Water saving should be a permanent feature,” Mr. Rajamohan, who is the president of Harvey Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association in Arasaradi, says.
The Mayor has ordered for deploying about 100 additional water tankers to supply water.
Assistant Engineers will talk to well owners in Maadakulam, Tirupparankundram, Kochadai, Paravai, Kadachanendal, Melakkal and Karupayoorani to source water from there.
The situation is so grim in Madurai that as per the Public Works Department records, the Madurai region received rain for only 80 days in 2013.