Distressed by erratic Metro Water supply, residents demand immediate solution to the problem.
May and June are tough months, marked by water shortage and frequent power cuts.
Water scarcity in the city is not a new problem, but it is an issue that should have been long addressed on priority basis. Buying water is not an option open to all. With underground bore wells running dry during peak summer, people depend solely on Metro Water supply for daily use.
Although a booming residential area well connected with the other parts of the city, Virugambakkam still has developmental and civic issues.
Residents of Gandhi Road, a narrow half-a-kilometer long stretch near School Street at Virugambakkam, share their story of woes.
Distraught with lack of continuous supply of Metro Water, Palanisami says: “This is a backward locality. Not all houses have a sump with Metro Water connection. Like most of the people here, I have only a bore well and hand pump, but both have stopped yielding.
The water issue is so bad that we depend on a common hand pump kept on the side of our road. The problem has been persisting for a long time now, and no amount of complaint has brought any respite to us.”
Common hand pump
Lalitha Narayanan is economically better off from others in the area, but the water problem is nagging her as well.
“A household needs at least 20 litres of water everyday. The street has been sharing water from the common hand pump for now. But water supply to the hand pump is also erratic. We have to pump water once in the morning and again at night.”
But she feels that the responsibility may not completely lie with the Metro Water.
“Whenever we complain about the issue, the Metro Water officials tell us that some of the residents have not paid water tax and so they cannot attend to the issue. It may be true.”
Mary talks about a different problem. “I have a deep sump. Though Metro Water supply has become erratic, we still have enough water to meet the demands of our household. But, the little water we get is so muddy that the line gets clogged. Due to this, we had to fix our motor twice this year.”
Arumainathan, president of Virugambakkam Residents' Welfare Association, a common body covering welfare associations of Ward 127 and 128, said that he had received complaints from Gandhi Street residents and that he had approached the Metro Water department for a solution.
Pipes need relaying
“The underground Metro Water pipeline in the area is quite old and has not been laid very deep. Due to this, water does not flow forcefully and therefore, during peak summer residents do not receive enough water. On complaining to the department, they said that the pipes have to be relaid and residents will have to bear the cost. Each connection will cost around Rs. 7,500 and residents of Gandhi Street cannot afford this.”
Mr. Arumainathan said that the Association has appealed to the Water Board to take up the work from its funds.
With over 20 houses on this small stretch, residents fear that they will soon be forced to buy water if the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board does not redress their issue at the earliest.