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Buying water is the only option

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ENDLESS WAIT:Residents waiting with empty plastic pots at a municipal tap in Mahabubnagar town.
ENDLESS WAIT:Residents waiting with empty plastic pots at a municipal tap in Mahabubnagar town.

S. Venugopal

With municipal taps going dry, people are forced to buy water everyday, spending over Rs. 450 per month

MAHABUBNAGAR: Govardhan, a ‘hamali' earns Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 4,500 a month. Living in a ‘basti' here, he buys a 20-litre can of drinking water every day at Rs.15, thus spending over Rs. 450 for water alone every month both in summer and in the rainy season as he does not get municipal water even once a week. “We get water from taps for an hour once in 10-12 days,” he laments.

“We use the water sparingly for domestic needs and cooking,” he says and it is an irony that he spends more on water than on buying 12 kg rice at the fair price shop for Rs. 2 a kg every month on his white ration card.

So is the case with Narayana, a labourer, Anjaiah, a carpenter and Narasimha, a painter and others in the basti. While most of those living in old Palamur, who are below the poverty line, simply cannot afford buying water and solely depend on municipal water. As they store it for 10 days, it smells and is sometimes unfit for consumption. The problem of irregular supply is not restricted to the ‘basti' but to the entire town. Long queues with people standing with plastic pots at public taps are a common sight.

“As we cannot afford to buy water we depend on bore wells. And the water we get is salty. We drink it because we have no option,” says Pentamma, a domestic help.

Demand

The demand for the 1.5 lakh population in the town is 18 million litres a day (MLD) but the municipality supplies only 10 MLD.

Taking advantage of the situation, over 40 filtered water units have came up here, each selling over 1,000 cans of 20-litre capacity and thousands of plastic packets of 100ml a day.

Most of them do not have the stipulated BIS mark and officials are not bothered to check them.

Breakages

Municipal Commissioner A.V.V. Bhadra Rao blames erratic power supply and frequent breakages in the main pipe line from Ramanpadu reservoir, 65 km away, for the poor supply. “We have to lift water from four places en route and if power breaks down at one point it takes 20 minutes to restore supply,” he points out. Breakages mean a delay of two more days for repairs, he adds.

He said works were on to expand the system's capacity with additional motors and that daily supply would be possible once the works on Koilsagar scheme, an additional source, were completed.


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