Drillers unable to find water even at 400 feet in some places

Amidst a rapid fall in the water table owing to the monsoon failure, residents in several parts of Manapparai town are facing short supply of drinking water even before the summer.

The poor monsoon in the perennially dry belt has resulted in open wells and borewells in the town going dry. Although water used to be available at 150 feet in the town, borewells dug as deep as 400 feet do not fetch water now, residents say.

At Vidathilampatti, women spend several hours in a day to get a few pots of drinking water from a public borewell fitted with a power pump. But the borewell runs dry frequently and the women have to wait for an hour or so to allow for percolation.

Although the area gets supply under the Cauvery Combined Drinking Water Scheme, residents complain that supply was erratic and they get water in the taps only once in three or four days. “We have to spend hours to fetch the water from the borewell, which disrupts our daily routine. It becomes an ordeal to send our children to school in time,” said Jayamala, a resident.

T. Karunakaran, another resident, spends three to four hours in the night to fetch water from the borewell to avoid the crowd during the day. Residents in other parts of the town complain of short supply. Drinking water was supplied only on alternative days through house taps and that too for just about 45 minutes to an hour, they complain. Some allege that illegal sucking of water from distribution mains using motor pumps was rampant in the town.

The Combined Drinking Water Scheme, which serves the municipal town, has its source on the Cauvery at Kulithalai, nearly 40 km away. The scheme, maintained by the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (with the Municipality taking care of the distribution), caters to nearly 50 wayside habitations and the town was at the tail-end. This effectively reduces the water supply to the town.

The town, with a population of 40,000, is supposed to get about 2.87 million litres of water a day (MLD) under the scheme, but gets only about 1.7 to 2 lakh litres a day currently, sources in the municipality said.

With a shortage of about 0.87 MLD a day, the municipality was able to provide supply only on alternative days.

However, steps had been taken to provide additional borewells and power pumps wherever necessary.

Motors used for illegal pumps are being seized, officials said. But with the fall in water table, residents were depending heavily on municipal supply and hence demand more water, they added.