Soon, as demand for drinking water increases during the peak summer months, Chennai’s roads will see more water tankers, all of them fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment.

To curb increase in unaccounted tanker trips, Chennai Metrowater is in the process of fixing GPS equipment on nearly 269 tankers that operate on contract for the water agency. The long-pending project, which was proposed two years ago, is finally set to be in place in 10 days.

So far, the equipment has been fitted in nearly 255 vehicles and the Rs. 41.93-lakh project would take shape once the remaining vehicles too are provided with the equipment. The speedy execution of this project has gained impetus with the summer demand expected to go up by at least 10 per cent. The number of paid trips undertaken by the tankers too is bound to increase.

At present, nearly 21 million litres of water a day (mld) is supplied to the city and merged areas through tankers.

Each tanker operates 8-10 trips every day. The trips and the routes are noted down in the records of the metrowater engineers at the distribution points. A team of officials conduct surprise checks on the tankers that operate between 5.30 a.m. to 6/7 p.m.

But, the GPS equipment would enable the water agency to monitor the movement of the vehicles and verify if they travel on the scheduled routes. Sources in Metrowater said the equipment would help track the vehicles’ position and speed as well as the number of stoppages and any deviations from prescribed routes. The information provided by the device will be received at the control room and officials would be able to monitor the vehicles through a web-based application.

Residents often complain about the delay in receiving tanker supply through the ‘dial for water’ service.

Sometimes, it takes tankers at least two days to deliver water. This recurring problem may be reduced as the number of trips would be streamlined. Residents said paid trips for supply sought by residents must be given priority over those by commercial establishments.

Meanwhile, members of Metrowater lorry owners’ association said a dearth of vehicles that supply water to residents including those in the added areas had led to the delays. They said they were paid at the rates quoted in 2011 despite the fuel price hike in recent times. This led to some lorry owners operating unaccounted trips at a higher rate. If the rate is increased, such illegal trips could be prevented, they said.

In the next phase, Metrowater plans to fit GPS equipment in sewer lorries. At present, the agency has nearly 170 vehicles fitted with jet rodding and desilting machines to desilt the sewer network and remove blocks.

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