Water to be drawn from all available sources; residents now pay up to Rs.400 for 1,000 litres

The State capital’s coastal belt has always been thirsty, despite numerous drinking water supply schemes, some of which have materialised, and some others are still on paper. Now, if Kerala Water Authority (KWA) Managing Director Ashok Kumar Singh is to be believed, the same coastal belt is about to witness a revolution of sorts, and moreover, is in for better drinking water days.

Seven desalination-cum-reverse osmosis plants will soon dot the coast, promising 20 litres of water at just Re.1. The proposed plants, for which the tender process will begin on Wednesday, will include four mobile units as well. To be handed over to panchayat-level agencies, including the Kudumbasree, once fully functional, the plants will draw water from wherever available, treat it using the reverse-osmosis technology, and in case water is not available from conventional sources, draw the same from the sea nearby and employ the desalination equipment that will be available with the plants.

The spots on the Thiruvananthapuram coast, where the stationary plants are to come up are Veli (with a capacity of 2,000 litres per hour), Pozhiyoor (5,000 litres ), and the Muthalapozhi harbour site (2,500 litres). The mobile units, expected to reach out to larger numbers of the public, will be primarily based at Vettukad (2,000 litres), Poovar (5,000 litres), Anchuthengu (2,500 litres) and at Puthiyathura (5,000litres). In fact, the plants proposed for Thiruvananthapuram, which is among five districts that will have such plants, will all be on its coast, indicating how precarious things are now.

And that reveals how these proposed plants, if everything works out as per Mr. Singh’s plan, can make a change.

K. Sachidanandan Nair, president of the Sauhrudam Residents’ Association, Puthiyathura, says about 250 houses in his residential area got KWA’s drinking water barely for an hour in the last 10 days.

Leaks unplugged

“We have lodged complaints with the KWA on several occasions. But apart from temporary respite, that too after repeated complaints, no lasting solution to our misery has come so far,” Mr. Nair says, adding that the residents were preparing to approach local legislator Jameela Prakasham and try putting pressure on the government to do something.

J. Shaji, another office-bearer of the association, says the umpteen unplugged leakages are one reason for the continuing misery.

“The water tank here has forgotten the days when it was full of water. We are now managing somehow, and are forced to approach private water supply agencies, who charge anything ranging from Rs.250 to Rs.400 for just 1,000 litres,” he says.

For the KWA, the proposed plants could bring respite from such complaints, and in what is expected to be another game-changing spinoff, curb the fleecing of the public by private players. A 20-litre jar of pure drinking water at just Re.1 can certainly turn the tide against the private players, and in turn, quench the coast’s thirst is what they believe. The plants are expected to be operational in three months after the tendering process is over.