A severe shortage of pure drinking water, coupled with the callousness of the authorities in supplying untreated water taken from the endpoint of a garbage canal to households, has prompted a citizen to launch a hunger strike in Mavelikara.

According to Ani Varghese, a social worker who is into the second day of his hunger strike in front of the Mavelikara KSRTC bus-station, the water being supplied in the Mavelikara municipal region, that includes around 35,000 houses that have no other source for water, is being taken from the Achenkovil River.

“That there is no treatment plant is one factor. What drives home the seriousness of the issue is the fact that the water is taken less than two metres away from where the sewage from the Kottathodu canal, a common garbage disposal point for everyone, falls into the river,” George Thazhakara, a supporter of Mr. Varghese points out.

That Kottathodu Canal has turned into a garbage disposal point, preventing the free flow of sewage and rainwater, is itself an issue. But what prompted Mr. Varghese to launch the hunger strike was the blame game among various government agencies.

“Whenever there is a complaint from the public over the issue, various departments will start blaming each other on the issue. There has been no idea or even thought on how the public will be given pure drinking water. Now, though it is clear that the responsibility is on Kerala Water Authority, they are not doing anything,” says Mr. Thazhakara.

The issue, actually, can be traced to the water distribution system in Mavelikara, which last saw amendments about 40 years ago. Water for public distribution is taken from the Achenkovil River, but with no major safety measures. The municipality's safety measures, according to Mr. Varghese, are restricted to a few rounds of chlorination.

His demands include a revamp of the water supply system, steps to ensure pure drinking water to citizens, and establishment of a reliable water treatment plant in Mavelikara.

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