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Updated: June 6, 2013 19:15 IST

Chennai’s guardians go without water as dues pile up

D. Madhavan
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The Hindu

The police department hasn’t paid water charges amounting to Rs. 30 lakh

For a week now, D. Kavitha, a police officer with the B-3 Tondiarpet police station, has been busy chasing, not criminals, but water.

Every day, before she leaves for work, she scouts the neighbourhood for working taps and fills up a few vessels which she then carries back to the police quarters on Thiruvottiyur Main Road in Tondiarpet.

Metrowater stops supply

Kavitha is not the only one with water woes. For many of the residents in the police quarters, fetching in a few pots of water every morning for domestic use, has become a daily routine, ever since Chennai Metrowater stopped the supply of water through tanker lorries to their building.

Metrowater took this step because of the police department’s non-payment of mobile water charges amounting to Rs. 30 lakh over the course of a few years, to the water agency.

“This is the second time in less than two months that taps have gone dry in the quarters after Metrowater took similar action earlier. It’s difficult to source water from the neighbourhood as most of the localities here face water shortage,” said K. Indumathi, a resident in the quarters.

Families protest

On Friday, nearly 100 families from the quarters tried to block the Thiruvottiyur Main Road demanding regular water supply but were then pacified by senior police officers. After a request by a few police officers, Metrowater officials resumed water supply but told them to pay their dues immediately.

“The water problem is a regular one here. But we told Metrowater officials that dues would be paid soon as we will take this issue up with our higher-ups,” said inspector R. Sivamani of B-3 Tondiarpet police station.

Built a decade ago, the building houses 250 families, mainly those of head constables and assistant sub-inspectors. It needs around one lakh litres of water to meet its daily requirements. The building has water pipeline connections, but these were suspended a few years ago after complaints of pollution in the water supplied by Metrowater through the pipeline.

Since then, water is supplied through tankers to sumps in the quarters. For this, Metrowater collects mobile charges for transportation.

‘Warnings issued’

“We charge Rs. 600 per trip and on an average, we do at least eight trips to the quarters daily. Each tanker has a capacity of 9,000 litres. The mobile charge is different from water tax, which is collected for water supplied through pipelines,” said a Metrowater official.

Metrowater officials said several reminders and warnings had been given to the police department to pay their water dues to the agency, but the police department kept asking for more time.

‘Reconnect pipelines’

Instead of relying on tanker lorries, Metrowater officials said the police department should re-install the water connections that had been suspended.

“The police department should re-apply for a water connection, which is the only permanent solution to their water woes,” said a metrowater official.

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