Electricity line for Manapparai water scheme diverted for private organisations

For the 40,000 population of Manapparai municipality struggling to quench thirst, history repeats itself, albeit a sour narrative.

Before 1994, the people of the region had to scrounge for water and it’s not uncommon to see even trains ferrying water for the region from far-flung areas, recalls L.S.Kannaiyan, chairman of the municipality from 2001-06. When a combined drinking water scheme was inaugurated by the current Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in 1994, the 25,000 residents started getting daily supply. The scheme costing Rs.43 crore helped supply 40 litres per capita a day in Manapparai and it benefited 50 wayside villages too .

The Cauvery-based scheme has a collector well with radial arms at Manathattai, near Kulithalai, and water is brought through pipelines from a distance of 40 km to Manapparai.

V.P.Shankar, former councillor, laments that with power disruptions becoming ubiquitous, the water supply in the past few months started dwindling and the 27 wards in the municipality with 6,000 domestic connections and a number of public fountains could get supply only once a week. The total capacity of the tanks in the municipality is 28 lakh litres and as of now the requirement is 36 lakh litres a day.

The failure of TANGEDCO to provide a dedicated feeder line, for which substantial deposit has been remitted by the municipality, is taking its toll on water supply, they allege . While a separate feeder line has been provided for the Pudukottai water scheme, inaugurated along with Manapparai scheme, the line that serves the latter is used for various other purposes as well, they say. The yield from the well at Manathattai seems to be dwindling. Normally it takes only 19 hours to fill all the tanks. Now it takes a minimum of 22 hours to fill a tank with a capacity of just nine lakh litres.” Besides, the pipelines from Kulithalai bursts frequently leading to disruptions in supply.

They pointed out that the municipality buys water from TWAD Board for Rs.4.50 a litre and supplies to domestic connections at Rs.3.50 a litre.

Asked why the local body did not object to electricity line for the water scheme being diverted for private organisations, they said “we did not have any water supply problem then and hence we did not bother about it.”

However, Executive Engineer, Operations and Maintenance, TANGEDCO, Kulithalai, has said in a communication that a separate feeder line was set up on September 6,1997.

R.V.S.Veeramani, also a former councillor, who pleads for a separate feeder line, says it is imperative to sink one more borewell near Kulithalai to augment the yield.

N.Chinnadurai of Matthiya Podhu Thozhilalar Sangham alleges that it is because of bad condition of the pipes that the municipality has to confront such a serious problem.

TWAD sources said that the problems of Manapparai scheme had already been taken note of and accordingly almost 60 per cent of the 30 km pipelines have been changed into metallic ones in phases at a total cost of about Rs.15 crore. “The next phase, connecting Chinnareddypatti and Manapparai, about 12 km, would also be taken up soon for which we will have to seek funds from the municipality. It might cost around Rs.4 crore,” sources said.

They also contended that the current source is more than sufficient. But water yield should be maintained through periodic cleaning. Also the municipal supply at local levels should be streamlined. “The number of public fountains is very high and it is for the municipality to regulate them.”