Staff Reporter

Only solution is to increase water quantity: KWA

KOCHI: Residents of Chellanam are up in arms against the acute shortage of drinking water in the panchayat. A hartal was observed in Chellanam last week after the talks with Kerala Water Authority (KWA) officials broke down," said K.D. Prasad, president of Chellanam panchayat.

The residents had planned to picket the Thoppumpady BOT Bridge on March 10, but this was dropped following an assurance given to the residents by the District Collector that the issue of shortage of drinking water would be addressed before March 31. The steps taken towards this end were evaluated on April 2. However, as the KWA officials could not come up with measure to solve the issue, we were forced to resort to protest measures like hartal, he said.

According to the new agreement reached between the KWA and the panchayat authorities, pipes would be repaired and more water would be pumped to Chellanam side by May 10. "If this promise is not met, we will take the protest to the city. There will be no more discussions with the KWA," he said.

The KWA officials maintain that nothing much can be done without getting the required quantity of water supply as planned according to the World Bank project for Kumbalam, Kumbalanghi, Maradu and Chellanam.

Another problem faced by the KWA is the frequent bursting of pipelines. "There are many pipes across Vijayam canal. These are frequently broken by boatmen. These leaks lead to pollution of water. Even though several breaks had been identified and corrected, this remains to be a recurring problem, said one KWA official. The shortage of water in the region is addressed to some extent by the desalination plant set up by the Department of Fisheries and handed over to the panchayat. However, the panchayat is finding it hard to run the machine owing to the heavy expenses involved.

The panchayat officials are now worried that this desalination plant is drawing water using bore well, and this could not be a sustainable model due to environmental reasons. "We are planning to hold discussions with the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) towards setting up another desalination plant for sea water," said Mr. Prasad.