No end in sight for illegal extraction of water from wells in Pallikaranai, says T.S. ATUL SWAMNINATHAN

For more than five years, residents of four localities in Pallikaranai – namely, Prabhu Nagar, Ambal Nagar, Narayanan Nagar and Ganapathy Nagar – have been waging a futile battle against private water tankers that are involved in extracting water from the wells in the area.

These wells are a vital source of ground water for these four localities.

“When the illegal activity started in 2005, we forwarded a complaint to the Chief Minister. Prompt action was taken with panchayat officials being directed to look into the matter. For two years after this, illegal extraction of water did not take place,”says P. Srinivasan, president of Ambal Nagar Residents Welfare Association, President, P. Srinivasan says.

In 2007, the practice reared its ugly head again has continued to this day. On an average, tractors and lorries make 120 trips daily to extract water from the wells. We met the Revenue Department officials, Sholinganallur Taluk Office Tashildar, Revenue Development Officer, Tambaram, and Kancheepuram Collector, and submitted a petition to curb the illegal practice. No action has been taken against the private water tankers till date, he added.

They (private water tankers) sell the water to hotels and other commercial establishments in the vicinity and in other areas of the city for hefty amounts. The water level in the wells would not diminish beyond 40 feet. Now, it has dwindled up to 60 to 70 feet.

Earlier, the bore well will get filled up in 30 minutes. Now, it takes around two hours to get filled up. We are facing a severe water crisis. If this situation continued, the wells in the area would soon go dry. These wells are the only source of water for the four residential localities, Srinivasan pointed out.

Ashok Srikumar, a resident of Ambal Nagar, says, “There have been multiple instances where we have stopped the water tankers from illegally extracting the water. Despite the standing order brought by the State Government in 2002 through the Chennai Metropolitan Groundwater (Regulation) Act, the practice continues.”

“How can you expect the authorities concerned to take action against the offenders when people closely associated with the ruling and opposition parties are involved?” asks G. Babu, a cab-driver and a resident of Prabhu Nagar, Pallikarnai.

“Based on complaints by residents, we have warned private water tankers against illegally drawing water from the wells, blocked the tankers from entering the residential suburbs,” a senior official in the Sholinganallur Taluk Office said.