On a drive down the road running parallel to the Shanghumughom beach, which stretches past Valiyathura, one can catch glimpses of endless waves trying to crash in and make their way into the land. Ironically, these very waves destroyed the only source of water for thousands of families living along this coast, during the heavy monsoon last year. Pipes were ripped apart and public taps uprooted, all of this still lying around even as residents of the area walk kilometres to fetch a pot-full.
“When we fish close to the shore, the work of spreading the fishing nets and then pulling them back takes up around 4 to 5 hours. In between, we have this habit of running back to the nearby tap for a sip of water. But now with all the taps destroyed, we have to depend on water which we collect in buckets and pots from public taps far away,” says Jasheer, a resident of Valiyathura.Not enough taps
In most of the coastal wards of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, the only sources of water are public taps, which also are inadequate in number.
“During day time, the public taps usually run dry. Water comes, like a drip, sometimes at 3 in the morning. Some of us take turns in waiting for water every day,” says Jaya from Shanghumughom.
New pipelines were laid along the coast four months ago, under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-aided water supply scheme, at a cost of Rs.24 lakh. The plan was to install public taps every 50 metres along the coast.
Once work on the mainline was completed, things came to a standstill. A blame game ensued between the JICA and the Kerala Water Authority (KWA).
The residents in the area are still not sure whose responsibility it is to give connections to taps.
“After the recent report in The Hindu on the lack of progress in the work, the KWA officials visited the site and said that they would replace the pipes laid by JICA as they are faulty. But JICA officials are saying that they will rectify the problems in the line. Six months ago, the Corporation had handed over Rs.24 lakh to the KWA as part of the Basic Service for Urban Poor (BSUP) project for new pipelines in more areas. But the KWA officials are now saying that they need to discuss with the District Collector to get sanction for buying new pipes,” says Tony Oliver, Valiyathura ward councillor.No tankers here
Councillors in the coastal wards claim that water supply in tankers also does not happen, though they do send in requests whenever residents raise the issue of water scarcity. Residents say that the main pipelines to the public taps in the coastal regions were laid many decades ago. The lack of width and blocks within this line also hampers free flow of water.
“In the Beemappally ward, water is yet to come through the JICA pipes. The Corporation is currently working on a project to extend the line by 2000 metres to areas which are yet to be covered,” says ward councillor Mohammed Iqbal.No action on plan
Two years ago, the City Corporation sent an action plan to the State government to revamp the water supply systems in the coastal areas. This plan was prepared as per the Paloli Mohammed Kutty committee’s recommendations based on the Sachar Committee report, which put forward projects to improve the basic infrastructure in backward areas where minorities reside. The Rs.12 crore action plan focused on direct water supply to all houses in these regions. But the State government is yet to respond to it.
The Corporation’s project to subsidise a specific number of new water connections in all wards also has not yielded the desired results. While some councillors complain that they are yet to get the funds from the local body for connections already taken, some others say that not enough beneficiaries are applying for the scheme.