Lack of coordination among government departments dries up pipes
There is no dearth of water supply projects, yet several parts of the district face acute water shortage during summer. Among various reasons attributed to this dismal situation is the lack of coordination among government departments. And at the receiving end are residents who are left with no option but to purchase potable water for hefty prices.
Take the case of nearly 100 families of the Kodimatha, Manipuzha, and Pathinarilchira areas who have been denied water supply after the laying of the four-lane road from Kodimatha to Manipuzha recently. Following the construction of the road, the pipes laid by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) are now nearly 3 metres below the road level.
According to official sources, differences cropped up between the KWA and the Public Works Department (PWD) after the former issued a cost estimate for relaying the pipes. However, the PWD found the estimate unacceptable and went ahead with the construction. Water supply was subsequently discontinued by the KWA as the pipes were in a bad condition and required maintenance. Now, for over a month the local residents have been denied potable water.
The tale of woes of several families in Mutholy grama panchayat in Pala runs on similar lines. Residents here are not able to utilise the Jalanidhi water supply scheme because the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) has failed in providing electricity connection for the implementation of the scheme. This, despite the project being completed in February and the beneficiaries paying the prescribed charges.
According to a KWA official, areas facing acute water shortage include the eastern and high-range regions of the district, including Kanjirappally, Mundakayam, and Ponkunnam. Parts of Kottayam municipality and Kumarakom too have to face the brunt. In places such as Kaduthuruthy, residents depend on water supply through tanker lorries. Rates ranging from Rs.800 to Rs.1,000 are being charged by private entities for 1,000 litres of water. There have been reports that higher rates are being demanded in the hilly areas.
Kottayam municipal chairman M.P. Santhosh Kumar says a Rs.180-crore comprehensive drinking water supply project will soon be undertaken under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) envisaged by the Union Ministry of Urban Development. The implementation of the proposed project is expected to provide a long-lasting solution to the water woes in the region, including Kumaranalloor and Nattakom.
In addition, a recent meeting convened by Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph in Thiruvanathapuram decided to sanction water supply schemes worth Rs.174 crore for the district. The proposed projects will cover Kumarakom, Thiruvarppu, Kanjirappally, Erumeli, Kaduthuruthy, Ettumanur, and Puthuppally.