In the second part of a series, K. Manikandan highlights the state of water infrastructure in the southern suburbs, including Tambaram and Pallavaram

As the city faces an imminent water shortage this summer, a sense of unease looms over some of the bigger urban local bodies, such as Tambaram and Pallavaram, which are principally dependent on the Palar river.

Residents of the southern suburbs, on the one hand, are plagued by the fast-depleting level of the groundwater table at the Palar river. Inadequate facilities to store and distribute what little quantity of drinking water they receive, compound the problem.

Today, while some residents receive drinking water at their homes through individual water connections, a larger number fetch water from public fountains and road side tanks.

The first ever project for supplying drinking water in the city’s southern suburbs was the Alandur–Pallavaram Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme, with the water to come from the Palar river. After Alandur began to be served by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, it was delinked from the scheme. The project was then rechristened Tambaram–Pallavaram Scheme.

Meanwhile, Tambaram municipality had implemented an independent scheme from the Palar and it now has an upgraded Water Supply Improvement Scheme.

Fast-depleting resource

An engineer of the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board said the water level had dipped alarmingly in the subterraneal bed of the Palar. Mining of sand around the infiltration wells at the source villages between Pazhayaseevaram and Wallajahbad in Kancheepuram district had also affected the water-retaining capacity of the bed.

Under the circumstances, the official said, it would be difficult to cater to even half the requirements of the local bodies served by them currently, including Tambaram and Pallavaram and a few other urban local bodies.

Damage to water network

Former engineers of the department of municipal administration and water supply said proliferation of illegal water connections had resulted in pilferage, apart from causing severe damage to the network.

Against their actual requirements of drinking water, Tambaram, Pallavaram, Pammal and Anakaputhur receive far less supply. Residents complain of getting water once in two weeks.

In Anakaputhur, residents are affected due to lack of storage facilities. An overhead water tank has been under construction for several years now in the municipality. The Rs. 45-lakh tank can store 3 lakh litres of water once completed, officials said.

Sources in smaller local bodies under threat

Unlike municipalities, town panchayats and small village panchayats have their own local sources, such as wells and deep borewells, around water bodies.

These sources are under threat due to acute pollution from draining of effluents and sewage and the fringes of the waterbodies being converted to garbage dumping yards and compost sheds.

According to an official of the commissionerate of municipal administration and water supply, their priority was completion of sinking deep borewells and supply of water through handpumps at the earliest.

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